Poll finds GOP got bump up

LOCAL SURVEY: Palin on ticket put McCain ahead for Alaskans.

September 6, 2008 

A new poll has determined that Alaskans are much more likely to support Republican John McCain for president now that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is his running mate.

While that's not surprising, the magnitude of the shift is, said Jean Craciun, president of Craciun Research Group, the Anchorage-based polling firm that conducted the voter survey between Aug. 30 and Sept. 4.

The six-day sample -- which began a day after McCain announced Palin as his running mate -- found that 51 percent of Alaska registered voters now support McCain, 36 percent support Obama and 12 percent of voters are undecided.

The poll surveyed 404 registered voters and has a margin of error of 4.9 percent.

Over the course of the poll, however, opinions shifted dramatically, Craciun said.

During the first two days, from Aug. 30-31, voters in Alaska still favored Obama by 7 points (49 percent to 42 percent) -- a margin consistent with other surveys the week before that found Obama holding a 5-point lead.

That two-day snapshot from the survey was based on responses from 131 voters and had a margin of error of 8.6 percent, Craciun said.

During the last four days of the poll -- as the Republican National Convention unfolded and Palin energized a huge audience with her speech -- voter opinions in Alaska shifted by 34 points altogether, according to the survey.

That Sept. 1-4 sample found that 56 percent of Alaska voters favored McCain, while only 29 percent favored Obama. The four-day snapshot of 274 voters had a margin of error of 6 percent.

Craciun credits the shift to the daily change in voter perceptions as the week unfolded and Alaskans began to come to terms to with the idea of their governor joining McCain's presidential ticket.

"Almost three in 10 Alaskans (29 percent) said the appointment of Palin made them more likely to vote for McCain," Craciun said.

Jeff Giertz, spokesman for the Obama campaign in Alaska, said he hasn't yet had a chance to see the poll results and had no comment to offer.

But the results stand in contrast to a national poll released Friday by ABC News, which found that Palin's selection for the ticket only made about 6 percent of Americans more likely to vote for McCain.

The Craciun survey also found that 68 percent of Alaska registered voters think Palin can handle the job of vice president, and 59 percent think she can handle the job of president.

The survey was controlled to make the sample proportionate to the state's 40 electoral districts. It was not sponsored by either campaign, Craciun said. She paid for it herself.

Find George Bryson online at adn.com/contact/gbryson or call 257-4318.

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