A new poll conducted by Rasmussen Reports, a national firm that’s associated with Republicans, has Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell beating Sen. Mark Begich in the general election. And it has Senate candidate Dan Sullivan tied with Begich. The poll, conducted March 19-20, robo-called 750 likely voters. It has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.
According to the poll, if the vote was held the day of the call, Treadwell would be leading Begich 47 percent to 43 percent. If the matchup were between Sullivan and Begich, 44 percent would vote for Begich and 44 percent for Sullivan.
In addition, 37 percent approved of the healthcare law, while 60 percent disapproved. And 41 percent approve of President Obama’s job performance while 56 disapprove.
On the face of it, it’s a good-news poll for both Treadwell and Sullivan, who, along with former Senate candidate Joe Miller, are running in the GOP primary.
However, the poll comes with a huge caveat: It’s likely that a segment of the public is confusing two Dan Sullivans in the race. Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan, who is running for lieutenant governor, is much more well-known than former Department of Natural Resource Commission and now Senate candidate Dan Sullivan.
Local pollster and political consultant Marc Hellenthal agreed that the public would likely be confused. He said that Senate candidate Sullivan hasn’t done the massive media buy yet necessary to distinguish himself from the mayor of Anchorage.
Too, although it does better in Alaska than some robo-polling firms, Rasmussen has been highly criticized for its biased polls. Nate Silver, the uber polling cruncher, said the following about the firm in 2010:
Rasmussen, for instance, generally conducts all of its interviews during a single, 4-hour window; speaks with the first person it reaches on the phone rather than using a random selection process; does not call cellphones; does not call back respondents whom it misses initially; and uses a computer script rather than live interviewers to conduct its surveys. These are cost-saving measures which contribute to very low response rates and may lead to biased samples. Rasmussen also weights their surveys based on preordained assumptions about the party identification of voters in each state, a relatively unusual practice that many polling firms consider dubious since party identification (unlike characteristics like age and gender) is often quite fluid.
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