A new poll conducted by Hays Research confirms what we already intuitively know. Alaska U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller's candidacy is in big trouble.
The percentage of Alaskans who feel either "somewhat negative" or "very negative" about Miller has skyrocketed in recent weeks to an astronomical 68 percent. Only 8 percent feel "somewhat negative" and the remainder, a jaw-dropping 60 percent, feel "very negative" about Miller as a candidate.
A series of gaffes, inconsistencies, and controversial statements to the press, in addition to the arrest of a journalist by Miller security guards have come one on top of another, causing a trend that can only be described as a campaign death spiral. Miller's hardcore supporters who view him "very favorably" have held in there, showing a decrease of only 3 percent since Oct. 6, but his "somewhat favorable" rating went from 20 percent to 9 percent in that time. Miller's "somewhat unfavorable" rating dipped from 13 percent to 8 percent, underscoring the voter stampede toward "very unfavorable" which skyrocketed from 38 percent to 60 percent in less than three weeks.
If there could be even worse news for the Miller camp it's that this devastating poll occurred before the headline "Miller's employee records reveal numerous lies" appeared on newsstands on the front page of today's Anchorage Daily News, which quotes a damning email in which Miller admits he repeatedly lied about his misuse of Borough computers for political purposes while he was a part-time lawyer for the Borough in 2008.
This all begs the question, if Miller is hemorrhaging voters, where are they going? The numbers seem to bear out the anti-incumbency sentiment, and voter frustration with the "establishment," because Miller's supporters seem to be jumping ship mostly for McAdams.
Hays asked the question (replicating the experience of the voter going in to the booth in which they will not see the name of write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski on the ballot), "If the election for U.S. Senate were held today, and the candidates were Joe Miller, Scott McAdams, Frederick Haase, Tim Carter, Ted Gianoutsos, or another candidate you have to write in, for whom would you vote, or are you undecided?
The result? Scott McAdams surging ahead of Joe Miller with 29 percent, Joe Miller with 23 percent, and the write-in candidate (most of which are presumably Lisa Murkowski) with a small gain bringing her to 34 percent, and undecided voters still at 13 percent. This is the first time that McAdams has polled better than Miller, and he did it by six points, comfortably outside the margin of error of 4.8 percent -- a watershed moment for the McAdams campaign.
Just for fun, I took the information from the Hays poll and added trend lines, projecting them out to Nov. 2, Election Day.
According to the basic trend lines, Joe Miller continues the plunge, and McAdams and Murkowski meet at the summit.
So what does this all mean?
First, for everyone who is terrified of Joe Miller, take heart. With a 68 percent disapproval rating, and his trend line looking like the flight of the Hindenberg even before the latest scandal hit the news, the chances of him actually pulling it off and winning this election are slim. And that's a good thing for anyone in Alaska who was holding their nose and voting for Murkowski based on fear of Miller and not based on their values. Alaskans who felt forced to vote for Murkowski because they believed it was the only way to save the state from Joe Miller, you're off the hook. You no longer have to vote for someone who has voted against the best interest of Alaska, and with party leadership more than 90 percent of the time. You no longer have to vote for someone who has been bankrolled by corporations and outside interests. You no longer have to vote for someone who will pretty much vote the same way as Miller anyway. In other words, you no longer have to vote for Miller Lite.
It also means that Lisa Murkowski's newest slogan, "A Vote for McAdams is a Vote for Miller," has just been neutered by the numbers.
More good news for McAdams "poll watchers" is that no poll can take into account the looming threat of legal challenges by both political parties to write-in votes, the inevitable voter error, or the unsuccessful history of write-in candidacies. But despite the fact that this type of race is notoriously difficult to poll, there is no doubt, considering the trend over time, that this race is looking more and more like McAdams' campaign slogan -- it IS "about Alaska."
So, if you are an Alaskan voter who has found it increasingly impossible to put your state in the hands of the Tea Party candidate, or leave your state in the hands of the corporate "party line" candidate, you're not the only one.
After several successful debates, a consistent positive message about what is best for Alaska, and a pledge to never accept one dollar from corporate PACs, Scott McAdams is in the middle of a grassroots surge, gaining an unbelievable 13 percent since Oct. 6, with no signs of stopping. If there's one thing that Joe Miller got right, it's his mantra, "If you want to change D.C., you've got to change the people that are there." Alaskans seem to agree with the sentiment, but they no longer believe that Joe Miller is the kind of change they want.