Poll: Walker would win hypothetical four-way race for governor

Les Gara, Bill Walker, Mike Dunleavy and Natasha von Imhof.

Just what impact will ranked voting and the open primary have on Alaska’s next round of elections? No one knows for sure, but Alaska-based pollster Ivan Moore has a new poll on how one race might play out.

In a hypothetical race between Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy, independent former Gov. Bill Walker, former Democratic legislator Les Gara and Republican Sen. Natasha von Imhof (who is rumored to be considering a run but yet to commit to one), Walker would win in the third round of retabulations.

Moore’s poll was conducted between Oct. 22 and 27 with 969 registered voters with a reported 3.2% margin of error. It’s the first good look we’ve had at how the election may play out under ranked-choice voting, where voters would rank their choices for governor instead of selecting a single candidate.

Under the system, votes would be reallocated after each round with the voters for the lowest-performing candidate being distributed based on the voter preference. Each round of eliminations would continue until one candidate has a majority. According to Moore, here’s how the rounds would play out:

Round 1

  • Dunleavy 43%
  • Walker 28%
  • Gara 22%
  • Von Imhof 8% (eliminated)

Round 2

  • Dunleavy 46% (+3)
  • Walker 30% (+2)
  • Gara 24% (+2) (eliminated)

Round 3

  • Walker 50.5% (+20.5)
  • Dunleavy 49.5% (+3.5)

It’s important to keep in mind that this is a hypothetical race. Von Imhof has yet to make official any plans to run for governor and this specific four-candidate slate would also have to survive the top-four open primary where there’s no ranked-choice voting in play. There are two libertarian tickets that have been announced for the gubernatorial ballot who may also have a shot to reach the ballot, and a right-of-Dunleavy candidate would certainly change some of the calculus.

Still, what’s particularly interesting about this is while the reallocated votes certainly trend in certain directions they’re not at all monolithic. With each elimination, everyone’s share of the overall votes improves. Even Dunleavy sees a boost with the elimination of Gara.

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