Poll: Trump-Endorsed Kelly Tshibaka Tied with 21-Year Incumbent Lisa Murkowski

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA - JULY 09: Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka (L) pumps her fist as former U.S. President Donald Trump (R) looks on during a "Save America" rally at Alaska Airlines Center on July 09, 2022 in Anchorage, Alaska. Former President Donald Trump held a "Save America" rally in …
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Trump-endorsed candidate Kelly Tshibaka is tied with 21-year incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) for U.S. Senate with about 50 days until the election, national pollster Cygnal revealed Monday.

The poll takes into account Alaska’s ranked-choice voting. Tshibaka leads Murkowski on the first ballot by 7.9 points and on the second by 9.3 points. On the third ballot, the poll shows Murkowski leading Tshibaka by 0.2 percent, a statistical tie.

Democrat Pat Chesbro received 13.1 percent on the first ballot and 13.9 percent on the second ballot before becoming ineligible for the third ballot.

The poll suggests that Murkowski’s best chance of defeating Tshibaka is Democrat voters, who could vote for Murkowski as the ranked-choice system advances. The way Alaska’s ranked-choice general election and open primary system, instituted in 2020, works is as follows:

All candidates from all parties appear on the ballot together in the August primary. The top four vote-getters regardless of party then advance to the general election, and their voters are given the opportunity to pick their top choice, as well as their second and third choices. If no candidate in the first round of voters’ first choices gets 50 percent of the vote, the last place candidate’s second choices are distributed across the remaining three candidates to see if someone can get across the majority threshold. If that fails again to produce a majority vote-getter, then a third round is conducted where the third place candidate’s votes are redistributed according to second choices between the remaining two candidates.

In a positive sign for Tshibaka, Edgar Blatchford, a former U.S. Senate Democrat candidate, endorsed Tshibaka last week after bowing out of the race. The endorsement could mitigate some of the Democrat support Murkowski needs to defeat the challenger. Democrat candidates in the open August 16 primary only received about 8.5 percentage points of the vote.

U.S. President Joe Biden talks with Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) after signing the VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act of 2021 into law in the East Room of the White House on July 22, 2021 in Washington, DC. The law adds a new source of revenue for the Crime Victims Fund and makes changes to formula grants supported by the fund. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

U.S. President Joe Biden talks with Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) after signing the VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act of 2021 into law in the East Room of the White House on July 22, 2021, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

After the votes were totaled, Murkowski and Tshibaka both advanced to the general election. Election results showed Murkowski came in first place over Tshibaka by about seven points. But since the primary, Blatchford and Buzz Kelley, a fellow Republican candidate, suspended their campaigns and endorsed Tshibaka in November’s election. The endorsements are notable in the ranked-choice voting system.

According to Tshibaka’s campaign, the candidate is in a strong position despite the voting system that favors Murkowski, along with massive amounts of negative TV advertising against Tshibaka. “Having Buzz Kelly’s support and the support of the former Democrat candidate Edgar Blatchford,” Tshibaka said during a Monday phone call, “I think it is really becoming clear that Alaskans across the entire spectrum are uniting behind this campaign.”
“We know Murkowski has grown more and more liberal over these last 21 years in the Senate. She is now one of Joe Biden’s best allies,” Tshibaka added.
The poll sampled 504 general election Alaskan voters from August 20-22 with a 4.32 margin of error. The poll surveyed respondents via live phone calls and SMS-to-web and email-to-web methods.

Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø. He is the author of Politics of Slave Morality.


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