Embattled Rep. Don Young (R) and former state House Minority Leader Ethan Berkowitz (D) are ahead in their respective House primaries, according to results of a statewide poll taken earlier this month.
In a head-to-head Democratic primary matchup, Berkowitz received 45 percent of the vote, 2006 nominee Diane Benson received 19 percent, and former state Democratic Chairman Jake Metcalfe received 14 percent, with less than 21 percent undecided.
For the Republicans, Young received 61 percent of the vote to state Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux’s 33 percent, with less than 5 percent undecided.
The poll, which was performed by Anchorage-based Ivan Moore Research, was conducted Oct. 19-21 and surveyed 500 Alaska voters — 328 Democrats and 237 Republicans. The Democratic poll has a 5.4-point margin of error and the Republican had a 6.6-point margin of error. Though Berkowitz did not commission this particular poll, Moore is Berkowitz’s pollster for his campaign.
“It says I’ve got great traction, but I’m running hard and I’m running fast,” Berkowitz said.
Metcalfe’s campaign said the poll showed his campaign is up 11 percent since a late- September internal poll by Hays Research Group.
“We know [Berkowitz] started with stronger name ID numbers — from all of his political campaigns,” Metcalfe campaign manager Dana Krawchuk said in a statement. “But now his own polls show that Jake Metcalfe is the fastest rising candidate in the race to be Alaska’s next member of Congress.”
Benson said it was helpful that she had name recognition from a prior bid. “I’d say I’m doing much better than the poll indicates,” she added.
The poll also showed Republican Gov. Sarah Palin with very high favorable ratings. Palin received an 83 percent positive rating from those surveyed, with more than 50 percent of the total sample saying they have very positive feelings toward the first-term governor.
Although Palin has not discussed her future political plans publicly, her high favorable ratings and the perceived weakness of other elected Republican officials in the state have led some to speculate she could run for Senate someday.
— Shira Toeplitz