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About a month ago I polled Alaska, and the numbers in the Senate race were shocking:

Stevens (R) 41
Begich (D) 47

The poll got picked up in the local media, and Stevens' pollster was asked about it. In such cases, it's normal for campaign operatives to spin away such terrible results. In this case, the obvious play would've been to claim the poll was a biased survey conducted for the "far-left" website, or something like that. It doesn't have to be true, and Daily Kos polling is conducted by the non-partisan media polling firm Research 2000, but it would've been the obvious spin. Instead, Stevens' pollsters chose candor. From a news story on the poll:

Local pollsters are not surprised by the numbers. Dave Dittman, who's firm Dittman Research is polling for Stevens, said the publicity on corruption investigations is hurting the Republicans.

"It's interesting and it's early but I wasn't shocked," Dittman said. "Both Congressman Young and Sen. Stevens have been under attack (or) at least the subject of a lot of negative information and news stories and things for almost two years. I would think it's got to have an effect."

I thought at the time that the pollster would get a good tongue-lashing, and that would be the end of it. But today, in a piece in the Anchorage Daily News, Dittman once again undermined his client's campaign with an unwelcome (to Republicans) dose of the truth:

"He's more vulnerable than he has been before," conceded Anchorage pollster and political consultant Dave Dittman, who is working for the Stevens campaign.

As for Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich -- the Democrats' strongest potential candidate in the race, he's still waiting until the spring to announce. As I argued last year, if Begich was not going to run, he would've announced that decision by the end of the year to give other credible candidates a chance. He did not do that, so he's likely in. And if nothing else, he's sure sounding cocky about Novemenber:

Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich predicts both Stevens and Alaska Congressman Don Young will be gone after 2008.

"The delegation for the first time in decades will have serious competition for those seats," said Begich, 45, who is contemplating a run as a Democrat against the 84-year-old Stevens. "And I do believe those seats will change over."

I like it, and I look forward to seeing Republicans scramble to hold on to those seats while continuing to fend off FBI investigators.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Tue Jan 08, 2008 at 11:17 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  McCain Is Using Bridge to Nowhere in his Stump (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I heard McCain's stump speech on the radio yesterday.  He is using Steven's Bridge to Nowhere as the prime example of government waste.

    JPZenger was a newspaper publisher whose jury trial in the 1730s for seditious libel helped establish the freedom to criticize top government officials.

    by JPZenger on Tue Jan 08, 2008 at 11:19:37 AM PST

  •  Stevens (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    is going to have to start dumping some more propaganda into the Toobz.

    It's the Constitution, stupid.

    by litigatormom on Tue Jan 08, 2008 at 11:19:51 AM PST

  •  Could Alaska (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    go blue in 08?  I know Obama has an office there already and is getting good response.

    tough nut to crack but hey, it is one of the 50 states,right?

    •  I sure hope so! (0+ / 0-)

      I was living there in 2004 and it was RED as hell - at least in the circles I was unfortunate enough to travel in. True blue liberals, and I'm sure they had to be there, kept their political beliefs to themselves - especially when it comes to energy policy.

    •  Presidential, it's doubtful. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Congressional, it's very possible. Alaskans see all congressional races as local, and the local talk is that they're tired of the corruption of the local party.

      That, and when pressed on policy issues that are important to Alaskans, its unlikely any national Democratic candidate will give all the favorable responses. Alaskans are pro-oil, pro-guns, etc., and fear urban Democrats (often irrationally).

      They're not yet ready to blame the entire national GOP for the shady deals of the local Republicans. So they'll likely vote for a GOP presidential candidate, still... but the congressional seat is very likely to go to the Democrats.

      •  I wouldn't count out presidential either. (0+ / 0-)

        Only 3 in 20 need to switch sides since 2004 and I don't think that that is outside of the realm of possibility depending on who the candidates are.  Alaskans have a high number independents.

        "Nothing is more dangerous than an idea when it is the only one you have." - Alain (Emil Chartier), 1938

        by because on Tue Jan 08, 2008 at 02:24:19 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Alaska AND Mississippi? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    All three of the top Democrats out ranking the top Republican at the Iowa caucuses?

    New Hampshire running out of Democratic ballots in multiple locations around the state by noon?

    Americans are repudiating Republicanism in the strongest possible terms

  •  Wow (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Finally, someone who doesn't blame the press for their candidates' misfortunes.

    Either that, or Stevens has pulled so much crap that his people are kind like, "Well, that's understandable."

    Reminds me of Ron White, who said he was banned from a bar. "And when they did it," he said, "I didn't even argue with them. I said, 'OK, I get it.'"

    You've just read a comment by droogie6655321 -- the Kossack who does NOT advocate the cool activity of drinking.

    by droogie6655321 on Tue Jan 08, 2008 at 11:23:45 AM PST

  •  Credibility does count for something... (0+ / 0-)

    The Republican party will likely come back one day, and if not another party will coalesce around people who promote conservative beliefs.

    When that happens, the people who were singing "Everything's Going To Be OK" will be tossed out with the old guard in favor of the people who told the truth when things were bad and therefore might have some credibility to sing "Happy Days are Here Again."

    Sometimes the shit comes down so hard you have to wear a hat. Hat futures in the Republican Party look real good right now.

    Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness. -- MLK

    by PBCliberal on Tue Jan 08, 2008 at 11:24:20 AM PST

  •  Wait a second- What? (0+ / 0-)

    Do you mean there are other elections this fall besides the presidential? I had no idea!

  •  I would say confident (0+ / 0-)

    Not cocky. But I think Begich is forgetting about John Devens, the Mayor of Valdez who came very close to beating Young in 1990. He lost 52-48. He also ran a tight rematch campaign the following cycle, losing 47-43.

    Alright, that's close to 20 years ago. So maybe Begich was just fudging a bit with "decades."

  •  Let's remember Dave Dittman (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PBCliberal, Kuparuk

    We've spent years deriding the Washington insider consultants, and biased gunslinger polling outfits, that are much more concerned with the size of their next fee than remaining in the reality based community.

    Here we have a consultant who doesn't run away from the truth, even though he may be working for the opposition (this time).

    If he shows up in a Democratic candidate's entourage in the future, I hope we don't immediately assume said Democrat has gone over to 'the other side'.

  •  O/T Question (0+ / 0-)

    Is down?  I haven't been able to pull it up for two days.  Anybody know anything?  Is it just me?

    "When people show you who they really are, believe them." - Maya Angelou

    by Pennsylvanian on Tue Jan 08, 2008 at 11:34:05 AM PST

  •  Lame Duck (0+ / 0-)

    Yes, but what's George W. Bush doing these early days of his LAME DUCK career?

    More Videos

  •  As a Jueanuite (0+ / 0-)

    this is music to my ears.  Begich is very popular and the money for campaigns comes from big oil and Anchorage.  He would have a lock on Anchorage.  My only concern is that if Stevens does not run, Gov. Palin might.  She would be a tough Republican to beat.

  •  Why discount Ray Metcalfe? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    As for Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich -- the Democrats' strongest potential candidate in the race, he's still waiting until the spring to announce.

    Mark Begich is the DSCC's courted candidate, for the moment (funny, considering the previous gripes about the DSCC on this same site). We've yet to know if he's the strongest.

    The only Democrat to announce for the seat so far is the man who actually worked to take down Ted Stevens in the first place, Ray Metcalfe. I've seen no polls on Metcalfe yet, but as an outsider to the party, his viability could go up.

    Over the last few years, Ray took a beating in the public eye as a tin-foil-hat-wearing gadfly, but each and every one of the corruption convictions we've seen, and most of the FBI's investigation, stems from Ray's work. He's been vindicated, and has even shown the ties between Begich and one of the land developers implicated in the soup of corruption.

    Anti-corruption sentiment is swinging elections in Alaska at the moment. It's how the Sarah became governor. Ray's work is the reason.

    Don't discount Ray just yet. You might want to get to know a bit more about him, and keep an eye on him as we get closer to the Senatorial elections.

  •  End the corruption in Alaska (0+ / 0-)

    the repugnants have just about destroyed the wilderness of the beautiful Alaska.  time to try saving it for a change.

    Not only did we beat the British now we have to beat the Bushes.

    by libbie on Tue Jan 08, 2008 at 12:34:46 PM PST

  •  Are we really better off . . . (0+ / 0-)

    When republicans switch party affiliation in order to run against the scoundrels Stevens (or Young)?
    My gut says this is a scam and that we would simply have more of the likes of Leiberman, which wouldn't promote anything close to real "concern for the middle-class, the environment, education, healthcare, fiscal responsibility (within necessary infrastructure building) or the Constitution" Democratic values.
    I sense this will create major discord within the party itself.
    "Cynical?" you ask . . .
    After watching the vast and varied frauds and perpetrations against "We The People" by the GOP over the last 20 years, you frikkin right I'm "cynical"!!

    •  What Republican? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Begich is a life-long Democrat.

      Metcalfe left the Republican Party in the `80s in order to form a moderate party -- which is representative of most Democratic values. He didn't join the Democrats because he was just as critical of AK Democratic party corruption... like the sell-out of the State's interest in the North Star oil deal.

      Neither is what you'd consider "progressive" by DailyKos standards. Neither will vote against drilling in ANWR, neither will vote against the State's business interests, and neither will vote for things like gun control. Issues like this make any Alaskan unelectable.

      Both would stand on humanitarian or civil rights interests. Both are pro-choice. They both have more in common with Democrats than Republicans. And both are reviled by the Alaskan Republican Party.

      Begich is a business-leaning Democrat. Metcalfe was a civil-rights-leaning Republican (20 years ago). They're both pretty much dead-center moderates.

  •  Is It at All Possible (0+ / 0-)

    that the plan by the Stevens camp is to deliberately run the incumbent as an underdog?  To portray him as the best possible defender of Alaska's interests, especially in case Rep. Young goes down?

    I just have to wonder if a strategy to run from behind might be perceived as having certain advantages for a Republican, particularly in a year when Alaskans might sense that an incoming Democratic administration could be far less than ideal for the oil industry, which props up state revenues.

    •  I don't think so (0+ / 0-)

      I doubt anybody up here could look at Stevens as an underdog, even if he is behind in the polls.

      "Nothing is more dangerous than an idea when it is the only one you have." - Alain (Emil Chartier), 1938

      by because on Tue Jan 08, 2008 at 02:28:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Stevens is a goner (0+ / 0-)

    You would think the Republicans would try to push him out in a primary.

  •  Stevens may very likely... (0+ / 0-)
    be standing trial or in jail for corruption by the time the election comes around.

    One hopes that he and his son, Ben Stevens, have adjoining cells.

    "...the basest of all things is to be afraid." William Faulkner

    by flem snopes on Tue Jan 08, 2008 at 03:17:14 PM PST

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