But in a huge shocker, tea partier Joe Miller, whose destructive 2010 Senate bid tore open a deep fissure in the GOP, finished in second with 32 percent of the vote. Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, who'd long appeared to be the only serious threat to Sullivan, brought up the rear with 25. The polling data, however, had it exactly backwards. Miller never once so much as grazed second place all year, and a final poll from Sullivan's own pollster, Moore Information, put him 25 points ahead of Miller! So the question is, was private Democratic polling similarly awry?
Perhaps Miller never had any shot of stopping Sullivan, but no one ever tried to help him. Democrats ran a few ads that seemed aimed at boosting Treadwell's profile, but surely it would have been worth attempting a Claire McCaskill-style ratfuck painting Sullivan and Treadwell as insufficiently purist while portraying Miller as the one true believer. As an added benefit, this would have been true! And it seems like a real missed opportunity, because Miller's performance against Begich in the polling averages was much worse than his two opponents':