A new survey of Alaska voters from Tuesday’s still undecided Republican Senate primary between Sen. Lisa Murkowski and upstart Joe Miller shows that, while the “tea party” was definitely a major factor, Sarah Palin may not have been.
Sixty-five percent of Republican primary voters said that former Alaska Gov. Palin’s endorsement of Miller had no bearing on their vote, according to a survey released Tuesday by the liberal-leaning Public Policy Polling. Only 15 percent said the Palin endorsement was very important, while 20 percent said it was somewhat important.
The polls showed that 39 percent of voters said a Palin endorsement of any candidate makes no difference in how they vote, while 35 percent said it would make them less likely to vote for the candidate. Only 26 percent said they would be more likely to vote for a Palin supported candidate.
Feelings on Miller and Palin do, however, seem to correlate, with both scoring a “favorable” rating from 51 percent of the voters, while 40 percent said they held an unfavorable view of each. Murkowski, meanwhile, had only a 48 percent to 46 percent favorable/unfavorable rating.
While only 18 percent of GOP voters in the survey identified themselves as tea party members, 53 percent said they supported the goals of the conservative movement, with Miller winning those folks by a 74 percent to 27 percent margin. Murkowski held a 88-12 edge with voters who said they did not support tea party goals.
“Sarah Palin can claim credit for putting Joe Miller on the map, but not for carrying him to victory, should he end up prevailing,” said Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling. “Instead, the story in Alaska is the same as most other places: the winner was better liked than the loser, and his views were seen as more in line with the electorate.”
Miller leads Murkowski by less than 1,700 votes, with about 14,000 absentee and early votes still to be counted this week.
For complete results of the Public Policy Polling survey, which has a margin of error of plus-minus 3.5 percent, go to www.publicpolicypolling.com/pdf/PPP_Release_AK_831.pdf.