New Approval Numbers on Murkowski, Sullivan, Young, and Walker Released

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Pollster Ivan Moore of Alaska Survey Research has released the results of his quarterly survey measuring the popularity of Alaska’s statewide elected officials.

As many of you can probably deduce by the word “quarterly,” this is a running track done every three months and thus provides an apples-to-apples comparison of how officials fare when the same survey, with the same methodology, is applied over time.

Now, before we begin to receive the obligatory “this pollster’s numbers always suck” chorus, let me just say that while any one of Moore’s surveys may be off, the value of his quarterly survey is in the trends — that’s why I post them. One can usually argue that any one set of numbers any survey gives you is off in some way, but if the survey is repeated over time, the trend lines are almost alway in touch with reality.

According to Moore, this survey was fielded between December 15-19 and has a sample size of 622 registered voters statewide.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski

Murkowski saw her positive numbers spike over the summer up into the mid-50s. That was when her only declared reelection opponents were Democrat Ray Metcalfe and whatever-she-was candidate Margaret Stock.

Since then, Murkowski’s positive has dropped 8 points to 47% and her negative rating has spiked 11 points, to 36%. According to Moore, the crosstabs of the survey show that erosion came entirely from Republicans and Independents.

It’s only speculation, but those facts point to the conclusion that the twin factors of conservative Joe Miller entering the race against Murkowski and the Senator’s vocal lack of support for Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump had a negative impact on her numbers.

The good news for Murkowski is even with the dip her numbers are still pretty good and she saw a similar dip in her popularity when she ran for re-election six years ago, only to see her positive rating shoot back up to the low 60s over the following year. With the election over, I expect the same will happen this time.


Sen. Dan Sullivan

Really nothing to see here. Sen. Sullivan’s positive number has consistently settled into the 41-43% range over the last year. His negative number is a little bit higher this quarter, up from 25% to 29%, but that isn’t significant movement.

These numbers are Sullivan’s reality for now. They’re not fantastic, but they’re not horrible either.


Rep. Don Young

Young, like Murkowski, is coming off of an election. The interesting thing about his positive-negative numbers is that they don’t seem to at all be reflected in his ability to get re-elected. The Republican easily won re-election over Democrat Steve Lindbeck by 14 points in November, but his approval ratings continue to erode, bordering on being upside down.  

In this survey, Young saw a bump in his numbers to put his positive rating of 42% back above his negative rating of 39%. The long-term trend, however, is a continuing downward slide in the Congressman’s positive numbers and a steadily rising negative number.

For most politicians, these would be troubling trends, but DY continues to seem immune from normal political gravity.


Gov. Bill Walker

Anyone who doubts that Moore’s polling numbers bear a relationship to reality should look at Gov. Bill Walker’s trend line. Magically, Walker’s numbers took a huge hit right after he announced a veto of PFD disbursements. Does anyone want to make an argument that was just coincidence?

Overall, Walker’s numbers show a steady drop from his high point positive of 51% two years ago to a mere 38% positive now. Just as problematic for the Governor is that his negative rating has gone from 12% to 36% over the same period. Those are numbers that would make it hard for anyone to successfully run for re-election.

The good news for Walker is that this set of numbers actually shows improvement over the last survey, when respondents were pretty clearly at the height of their shock and anger over seeing their PFDs cut, and gave him only a 32% positive alongside a higher 35% negative rating.

If Walker can continue to rebound from those numbers, even slowly, before next year’s election, he could have a shot at re-election. That, though, is no small if.

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