The latest poll on the race for Alaska’s U.S. Senate seat gives Democrat-backed independent challenger Al Gross a one-point lead against Republican U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan.
Gross has the support of 47% of the 606 Alaska likely voters covered in the poll to Sullivan’s 46%, according to a polling memo released Harstad Strategic Research. The poll was conducted between Oct. 10 and Oct. 13 with a self-reported 4% margin of error and is the third such poll conducted by the firm.
“This progress confirms Dr. Gross’ continuing momentum and steady climb in recent months to his first tiny lead over Sullivan,” explained the memo by Paul Harstad, the firm’s CEO.
Harstad’s polling—which includes two previous polls conducted Sept. 20-23, and Oct. 2-6—has shown Sullivan holding at a steady 46% despite major shakeups that included the release of recordings of Pebble Mine CEOs describing Sullivan as “off in a corner,” Sullivan’s subsequent opposition to the mine and a barrage of last-minute spending.
Meanwhile, previous polling has suggested Gross’ generally favorable approval rating is hampered by his lack of name recognition. Thanks to the whole bear doctor thing, a flurry of last-minute supportive spending and a major influx of campaign contributions, his name recognition has improved as well as his standing in the race.
The race is still far, far from a lock—it was recently upgraded to “leans Republican” by the Cook Political Report—but Harstad outlines several positive points for Gross in his memo.
It notes Gross could add as much as 5% to his total if the undecided and Sullivan voters who said there was a “fair chance” they’d actually vote for Gross do, indeed, vote for Gross. In addition there’s 4% of voters that said they support Biden but not yet Al Gross, which Harstad says depicts “a ready path for Gross to get to a majority of the vote.”
Harstad also looked back to Sullivan’s narrow victory in 2014.
“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 six years ago, let alone in a strong Democratic year with a broader presidential turnout such as he is facing in 2020.”