Tag Archives: harper polling alaska

Lies, damned lies, statistics and partisan polls

Two partisan polls from both sides of the aisle were released this week. Both of the polls included Alaska issues, and the U.S. Senate race. Both are more interesting than credible, but perhaps open a window of light into the race that has so far released few numbers.

The first poll was from the left wing firm, Public Policy Polling, commonly called PPP, and was conducted earlier this month. That firm is no stranger to Alaska polling. Following the gun control debate in Congress, the organization released an improbable poll that said that U.S. Sen. Mark Begich’s vote against gun control resulted in a decline of support among Alaskans.

In this poll, PPP polled 850 registered voters including 442 Republican primary voters. The firm’s methodology has changed some. Included in the robo calls are opt-in internet surveys. But it still can’t manage to get its demographics right. This one, like the one on guns, over sampled both women and Democrats.

The second is from Harper Polling, a right-wing firm, which surveyed 677 likely voters Jan. 20-22. Harper also uses robo calling and also appears to oversample women and Democrats, and although it has a similar margin of error as the PPP poll, it comes up with very different numbers. The left leaning group has Begich on top and the right leaning polling group has two of the GOP contenders beating Begich. Surprised?

Here’s PPP’s numbers:

  • Begich beats former DNR Commissioner Dan Sullivan 41 to 37 percent.
  • Begich beats Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell 43 percent to 37 percent
  • Begich beats Joe Miller 45 to 25 percent.
  • In a GOP primary, Sullivan leads with 30 percent to Treadwell’s 25 percent and Joe Miller’s 20 percent.

Harper Polling comes up with the following:

  • Treadwell beats Begich 47 to 41 percent.
  • Sullivan beats Begich 47 to 41 percent.
  • Begich beats Miller 51 to 32 percent.

All of which perhaps proves the adage that there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.

It’s also worth noting that nobody who’s watching this race believes that the majority of the public at this point can distinguish between Dan Sullivan the Senate candidate and Dan Sullivan, the well-known Anchorage mayor.

Also, local pollster Marc Hellenthal, who knows how to poll this state, has Begich doing pretty well in Alaska, particularly in Anchorage, which had been a problem for him.

Hellenthal wouldn’t release the numbers, but he said that Begich seems to “have solved his Anchorage problem.”

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com