Exclusive — Poll: Kelly Tshibaka Leads Lisa Murkowski in Alaska
Former Alaska Department of Administration commissioner Kelly Tshibaka leads in Alaska’s U.S. Senate race, with incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) trailing, a new poll conducted for Tshibaka’s campaign and provided exclusively to Breitbart News shows.
The poll, conducted the way Alaska’s new ranked-choice voting system will hold its election, finds that Tshibaka would emerge as the only candidate with a shot to get over 50 percent in a four-way field in November.
Conducted from March 14 to March 16, the survey of 500 likely voters in Alaska’s November general election found Tshibaka in the first round with a huge lead of more than double digits over Murkowski. On that first choice on the ballot, Tshibaka comes in with 45.4 percent and Murkowski at just 28.7 percent—with a generic Democrat close behind Murkowski and a libertarian candidate in fourth place. The poll’s margin of error is 4.21 percent.
The way Alaska will elect its U.S. Senator under the new ranked-choice system is that four candidates will be on the ballot in November. That will come after a jungle primary in August where every candidate, regardless of party who files, faces off and the top four vote-getters advance to the November election. In the November election, voters will list their choices and rank them. To win, a candidate needs to get over 50 percent plus one vote to seal the deal; until that happens, there will be a second and possibly a third round of vote counting. The way it works is the first round sees voters’ first choice counted, and then when that concludes, the last-place candidate is eliminated, and their votes are distributed to the other candidates in a second-round based off that candidate’s voters’ second choice—and so on until a candidate gets to 50 percent plus one vote.
This ranked-choice system was championed by Murkowski’s former political team, and the prevailing reason for it was to try to protect her from a primary challenge and keep her political career alive as long as possible. Murkowski, for the record, has never reached 50 percent in any of her general election wins for the U.S. Senate. She was nearly defeated in 2010, losing in the GOP primary to Joe Miller, but then she mounted a successful general election write-in bid to save her seat that year.
Alaska poll by Breitbart News on Scribd
That’s the method the poll proceeds, according to pollster Cygnal, and finds that after the ranked-choice system plays out, Tshibaka still defeats Murkowski by 2 percent in the end—winning on the final ranking 50.8 percent to 49.2 percent.
“With only modest investments in advertising by her campaign in 2021, Kelly Tshibaka has tripled her name identification over the last year and positioned herself to be the next U.S. Senator from Alaska,” Cygnal’s Brock McCleary wrote in the polling memo addressed to Tshibaka’s campaign and provided exclusively to Breitbart News reads. “Based on the strength of her grassroots popularity, Tshibaka has united the center-right of the Alaska electorate in rejection of incumbent Lisa Murkowski’s re-election bid.”
Some other key findings from the Cygnal survey include that Tshibaka currently has 84 percent of Republicans supporting her, including leads with both men and women. Among Republicans who like former President Donald Trump and among “traditional Republicans,” as well, Tshibaka leads over Murkowski—a sign that the longtime GOP senator could be in for some trouble as this election year plays out. Trump has endorsed Tshibaka in the race.
The pollster’s memo also says a “strong majority” of undecided voters view Murkowski unfavorably, meaning she does not have much room to make up the difference between her and Tshibaka.
What’s more, 87 percent of Alaska Republicans have a negative view of Murkowski—and a generic Republican leads a generic Democrat by 22 percent, and independent voters prefer a Republican over a Democrat by 13 points. Party intensity, Cygnal’s memo says, is also much higher for Republicans at plus 86 percent than it is for Democrats at just plus 58 percent.
Democrat President Joe Biden’s approval rating is abysmal as well, down at just 37.2 percent viewing him favorably—13.4 percent very favorably and 23.8 percent somewhat favorably. His unfavorable rating is north of 60 percent at 61.1 percent, with a majority of respondents—53.5 percent—saying they view the president very unfavorably and 7.6 percent saying they view him somewhat unfavorably. The pollster Cygnal notes that Biden’s disapproval runs across the lines of gender, age, race, media market, and income level, showing a deep disdain among Alaskans of all backgrounds for the president.
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