Independent Gov. Bill Walker and Democratic challenger Mark Begich dead even, but both lag behind Republican front-runner Mike Dunleavy in the latest poll of the three-way race for Alaska’s governor.
The poll was conducted by the national Harstad Strategic Research polling firm and commissioned by the Alaska AFL-CIO. The survey was conducted with 602 likely voters on a mix of cellphones and landlines from June 21 to 26. The self-reported margin of error is +/- 4 percent.
Here’s the takeaway numbers from a three-way race:
- Republican Dunleavy: 32 percent
- Independent Walker: 28 percent
- Democrat Begich: 28 percent
- Undecided/Other: 12 percent
The results were released today via a candid news release that suggests organized labor isn’t particularly optimistic about a three-way race that seems to guarantee a Republican victory. Dunleavy’s 32 percent of the vote in this poll is a sizeable drop from previous polling that showed him near 40 percent of the vote in a three-way race.
“The Alaska AFL-CIO has a long history with candidates for governor Bill Walker and Mark Begich. Throughout the years, the labor movement has supported them both as they have solid records when it comes to labor issues,” explained the release. “With both of them in the gubernatorial racing facing the Republican primary winner, it is unfortunate for Alaska’s workers as it has become clear that, in a three-way race, neither of them will prevail.”
Earlier polls have disagreed on just where Begich and Walker sit when compared to each other, but every poll agrees a three-way race is likely to hand the victory to Dunleavy (though this poll puts Dunleavy’s lead within the margin of error).
The survey wasn’t completely devoid of good news for those worried about a Dunleavy victory. The survey also polled head-to-head races between Dunleavy and his challengers, finding that both Begich and Walker would be likely to prevail in such a showdown.
- Independent Walker: 49 percent
- Republican Dunleavy: 40 percent
- Undecided/Other: 11 percent
- Democrat Begich: 50 percent
- Republican Dunleavy: 41 percent
- Undecided/other: 9 percent
The entrance of the Alaska AFL-CIO into the polling realm is notable because it wields significant political sway through both organizational and financial capacities. Organized labor has so far sat on the sidelines, declining to commit to any independent expenditures on behalf Walker or Begich (while special interest money is already rolling on the GOP side of the ticket)
Labor sat on the sidelines in 2014, too, before the merger of Walker’s independent campaign and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott’s Democratic campaign. Once the two merged, more than $1 million of independent money poured into the race in support of Walker/Mallott.
Alaska AFL-CIO President Vince Beltrami is largely credited as one of the key drivers behind the 2014 unity ticket. In a prepared statement accompanying the release of the results, Beltrami didn’t explicitly call for a 2018 unity ticket, but said the races sure seemed similar.
“It is reminiscent of the 2014 gubernatorial race,” he said in a prepared statement accompanying the release of the figures. “To quote from the famous baseball player Yogi Berra, ‘It’s deja-vu all over again.'”
The AFL-CIO-commissioned poll also took a look at just how changes to the permanent fund dividend are playing with voters. Surprisingly, the results suggest Alaskans are pretty evenly split on whether or not reductions to the annual payout are merited.
Question: “There has been a lot of debate about how to deal with the state budget deficit and the proper level of the Permanent Fund Dividends — which have been reduced in recent years. Let me read you three positions about this and please tell me which one comes closest to your view of this most recent reduction in the PFD:”
- I am totally opposed to the recent reduction in the PFD amount – 43 percent
- I really don’t like the PFD reduction but understand it was a necessary evil – 28 percent
- I support the PFD reduction as a part of fixing the state’s fiscal crisis – 23 percent
- Don’t know – 6 percent
In total, the side that sees some sort of justification for the PFD reduction totals 51 percent to the 43 percent of the voters who are flat-out opposed to any reduction. It suggests that, at the very least, pro-PFD political platforms won’t be a universal home run.
The Republican primary
The survey also took a look at the Republican primary, confirming that former Wasilla Sen. Mike Dunleavy is, in fact, the front-runner of the field. According to that portion of the survey, Dunleavy holds a commanding 43 percent of the Republican primary vote to Mead Treadwell’s 17 percent of the vote.
The survey notes that no other candidate received more than 3 percent of the vote and with just six weeks remaining before the primary, “it is difficult to imagine how anyone is going to overtake Dunleavy’s wide lead.”