AK Beat: Is Alaska really that challenging for political pollsters?

Alaska Dispatch News

Re-examining Alaska's polling problem:  Alaska presents an unusually difficult challenge to political pollsters, making it harder to get reliable poll numbers, right? Maybe not, suggests New York Times politics blog The Upshot. It’s true that the state’s geography is unique, but even the remotest of villages has phone service and Internet “penetration” on the Last Frontier is actually above average. Sharon Chamard, director of the Survey Research Center at the UAA mentioned the state’s particularly transient population while Dittman research president Matt Larkin cited the effect of the diversity of Alaska’s far-flung communities and difficulty of getting a good sample from such a small population, especially when faced with low response rates. “But one encounters many of these issues in other states as well,” The Upshot writes. “There are many small-population states with significant cell-only or cell-mostly subpopulations, and states with varied and diverse communities.” So The Upshot crunched some numbers, looking at U.S. Senate polling from 1992 on. The result? While Alaska polls definitely have one of the worst track records -- the fifth most error prone, in fact -- several other states average evening more skewed polling, with Maine (a small population state) and New York (with diverse subpopulations) tying for worst.

Alaska has nation's slowest Internet: With an average Internet speed of 7 megabits per second, Alaska clocks in as the state with the slowest average speed, reports the International Business Times. The IBT, which drew numbers from a report by cloud services firm Akamai (pdf), said Virginia, with an average of 13.7 mbps. At least Alaska speeds, like those in most states, are still increasing; the study found that in Ohio and Vermont speeds had actually slowed some. Even relatively speedy Virginia stacked up poorly with global leaders, such as South Korea, whose 23.6 mbps was the world’s fastest.

Statoil strikes out in Arctic, while Russia -- and Exxon -- start exploring: Norway’s Statoil found no commercially recoverable deposits of oil in a drilling effort in the Arctic waters of the Barents Sea, reports the Wall Street Journal. The Norwegian company drilled three wells, including it’s northernmost ever, but found only “noncommercial volumes” the report said. Exxon Mobil meanwhile, will begin exploratory Arctic drilling Saturday in conjunction with Russian firm Rosneft in the nearby Kara Sea off Russia’s coast, reports Businessweek. Bloomberg notes that the deal between Exxon and Rosneft was made before the current sanctions -- which cover offshore oil production equipment -- and is thus unaffected by them.