Trying to keep up with the Alaska Senate race can induce recurrent cases of whiplash. When incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski first entered the race as a Republican write-in candidate in September, she trailed official GOP nominee Joe Miller by as much as 25 points in one poll. In the month of October, however, she made steady gains, and a recent string of polls has shown her leading the race by anywhere from five to 16 points.
Miller, meanwhile, has hit a series of stumbling blocks, and ABC reported over the weekend that the national Republican establishment had given up on him, using their ads to hammer Democratic candidate Scott McAdams in the hopes that Murkowski would continue to caucus with Republicans (as she has said she will) if she wins.
Yet a new survey released yesterday by Public Policy Polling, a Democratically aligned firm, shows Miller seven points ahead and Murkowski and McAdams tied.
What's going on here?
First of all, Alaska is known for scattered and unreliable polling. In 2008, pollsters overwhelming showed Republican Congressman Don Young trailing to Democrat Ethan Berkowitz. But Young won re-election, as he has since he first assumed office in 1973. And of course Miller's victory in the August primary surprised many observers, since the little public polling that had been conducted showed Murkowski solidly ahead.