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Alaska Senate: Begich Opens Nine-Point Lead Over Stevens

A week before longtime Alaska Senator Ted Stevens was indicted for trying to cover up more than $250,000 in illegal gifts, a Rasmussen Reports survey of voters in the state found that his bid for a seventh term was already in trouble. The Republican senator's race with Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich had been a toss-up for months, but the Democratic challenger is now ahead 50% to 41%.

When "leaners" are included, Begich leads 52% to 44%.

Begich began running his first television ads of the campaign on July 8 and the survey was conducted nine days later.

For each of the last three months, the candidates have been within two points of each other. Last month, Stevens was up two, 46% to 44%. In May, it the incumbent trailed by two. The month before, Stevens had a statistically insignificant 46% to 45% lead. Begich’s current lead is the largest the race has seen since Rasmussen polling began.

Stevens is the longest-serving Republican Senator in history. Begich was just six-years old when Stevens was first elected to the Senate in 1968.

Six years ago, Stevens won re-election with 78% of the vote. Since then, however, he has been caught up in a federal corruption investigation. FBI agents served a search warrant on Stevens' Girdwood home. Two years ago, the state’s Junior Senator Lisa Murkowski narrowly held on to her seat and won with less than 50% of the vote. Stevens recently announced that his campaign manager will be Mike Tibbles, who resigned recently as Governor Sarah Palin's chief of staff.

One in five Alaskan Republicans (20%) now throw their support behind Begich. The challenger earns 84% support from Democrats in Alaska, while Stevens is backed by 72% of his own party. Among unaffiliated voters, Begich leads by a two-to-one margin. The candidates are relatively even among men but Begich has a twenty-two point advantage among women.

Begich is viewed favorably by 63% of voters in Alaska, up from 56% last month. Thirty-four percent (34%) have an unfavorable view of the Democrat. Stevens is viewed favorably by 50%, which has not changed over the past month. Nearly the same percentage (48%) holds an unfavorable view of the Senator.

Any incumbent who polls below 50% is considered potentially vulnerable and that label certainly applies to Stevens. Normally, an Alaska Republican in trouble could count on some help from the top of the ticket. In its entire history, Alaska has voted for a Democratic Presidential candidate just once, and that was forty-four years ago. This year, however, John McCain holds just a single-digit lead over Barack Obama in Alaska.

Stevens is far from the only Republican considered vulnerable this year. Many Republican Senate seats are potentially in play for Democrats including seats in Alaska, New Hampshire, Oregon, New Mexico, Colorado, Mississippi, Minnesota, Virginia, and Kentucky.

Rasmussen Markets data suggests that Stevens has a % chance of winning re-election in November. These results are updated on a 24/7 basis by market participants. It costs nothing to join and add your voice to the collective wisdom.

Alaska’s Republican Governor Sarah Palin consistently earns high marks from Alaska voters. Sixty-nine percent (69%) say Palin is doing a good or excellent job, while just 11% give her a poor rating.

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Alaska Leans Democratic

Latest RR Poll

RR Poll Avg.

RR Mkts.

In Trade

2002 Results

Stevens (R)

44%

46%

79%

Begich (D)

52%

49%

10%

This telephone survey of 500 Likely Voters was conducted by Rasmussen Reports July 17, 2008. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 4.5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

See Methodology


Alaska Trends: Stevens vs. Begich

Date

Stevens

Begich

10/28/2008

44%

52%

10/06/2008

49%

48%

09/09/2008

46%

48%

07/30/2008

37%

50%

07/17/2008

41%

50%

06/16/2008

46%

44%

05/14/2008

45%

47%

04/07/2008

46%

45%


Favorable Ratings for Senate Candidates in Alaska

 

Stevens

Begich

Very Favorable

22%

27%

Somewhat Favorable

21%

30%

Somewhat Unfavorable

20%

18%

Very Unfavorable

35%

23%

Not Sure

1%

2%


About Rasmussen Reports

Rasmussen Reports is an electronic publishing firm specializing in the collection, publication, and distribution of public opinion polling information.

The Rasmussen Reports ElectionEdge™ Premium Service for Election 2008 offers the most comprehensive public opinion coverage ever provided for a Presidential election.

Scott Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports, has been an independent pollster for more than a decade.