The latest poll of Alaska’s U.S. Senate race shows a near-tie between Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan and Democrat-backed independent candidate Al Gross, building on the trend of ever-tightening polls for a seat that could be critical in deciding the balance of power in the U.S. Senate.
The poll was conducted by Harstad Strategic Research between Sept. 20 and 23 with 602 likely Alaska voters with a self-reported margin of error of 4%. It shows Gross “has drawn the race to a tie” with 45% of the vote to Sullivan’s 46% of the vote. Harstad Strategic Research has a B/C grade in FiveThirtyEight’s pollster ratings. The ad was commissioned by Independent Alaska, a super PAC supporting Gross.
A statement from the pollster accompanying the results notes that Republicans have been regularly in Alaska underperforming in recent years and that this year’s presidential election may be a boon to Gross.
“It’s important to start with perspective on how Republicans have been underperforming in Alaska the last six years,” noting that Trump only won 51% of the popular vote in Alaska in 2016 and is currently polling at 47%. “In 2014, Dan Sullivan squeaked by with 48% of the vote and just a 6,000-vote margin for U.S. Senator in an awful year for Democrats nationwide and lower mid-term turnout. In an evenhanded election cycle or a presidential year turnout Sullivan would have lost that election, let alone in a strong Democratic year with a broader presidential turnout.”
In the race for president, Trump also has just a one-point lead over Democratic nominee Joe Biden. The race stands at 47-46, according to this poll.
The polling also puts Sullivan at “an unimpressive popularity score” of 44% favorable to 44% unfavorable. Gross is less widely known but has a 42% favorable rating to a 31% unfavorable rating.
The polls don’t reflect the full fallout of the damning Pebble Tapes, which released on Sept. 21 with mine backers suggesting Sullivan was “off in a corner being quiet” about the project but gained widespread attention in the following days.
It was on the final day of the poll that Gross’ campaign cut an ad with the ammunition provided by the tapes. The poll had closed once Sullivan, on Twitter, outlined his opposition to the project.
Another interesting takeaway from the poll is that Gross has a shot to pick up undecided voters and Sullivan voters:
“When non-Gross supporters (undecideds and Sullivan voters) were asked the chance that they would end up voting for Gross, another 7% said there is a ‘fair chance,’ which would peg his prospective vote share at 52% as get gets better known.”