Don Young holds a strong lead in new U.S. House election poll

Alaska U.S. Rep. Don Young is far ahead in the race for Alaska's sole seat in the U.S. House, but the number of Alaskans who have a negative view of the longtime congressman is on the rise, according to a new poll for Alaska Dispatch News.

Young, who has held his spot in Congress since 1973, led the poll with 45 percent of voters. He was followed by Democrat Steve Lindbeck with 30 percent, independent Anchorage bar owner Bernie Souphanavong with 9 percent, Libertarian Jim McDermott with 8 percent and 9 percent of those surveyed undecided.

The poll was conducted from Sept. 28 to Oct. 2 by Alaska Survey Research. Live questioners spoke to 660 registered voters on cellphones and landlines. The margin of error is 3.8 percent.

The poll tested the views of registered voters, but did not aim to determine which of them were likely to vote on Nov. 8.

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Young has taken a hit in favorability since this time in 2014, when he was running against Democrat Forrest Dunbar and McDermott.

In the recent poll, more people said they have a negative view of Young — 38 percent — than a positive opinion of the 43-year congressman — 33 percent. Twenty-one percent of voters said they were "neutral" on the congressman.


At this time in 2014, polling by Alaska Survey Research found a 44.1 percent positive rating for Young, 30 percent negative, and 19 percent were neutral.

That year, Young won his race with 51 percent of the vote, an even 10 percentage points ahead of Dunbar. Libertarian McDermott, who is running again, drew 8 percent of the vote — nearly identical to his current polling level.

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Those who have lived in Alaska longer were more likely to have strong feelings about Don Young — his highest percentages of both positive and negative ratings came from people who have lived in the state for more than 30 years — 39 percent and 45 percent respectively. In that group of voters — more than a third of those polled — only 16 percent said they were "neutral" on Young.

Lindbeck has been running negative ads about Young since last month, which could be playing into his higher negative ratings.

But it's not helping the Democratic candidate. Asked about their feelings for Lindbeck, 66 percent said they had never heard of him. Of those polled who self-identified as registered Democrats, 53 percent didn't know their party's candidate, even though he easily won the August primary with 68 percent of the Democrat votes.

Of those who recognized the candidate, 13.7 percent said they have a positive view of Lindbeck. A low 3.4 percent had a negative opinion of him, and 17.2 percent said they were neutral.

View the full poll and crosstabs here.

Correction: Due to a rounding error, this story previously misstated the percentage voters who said they will vote for Rep. Don Young. The poll found 44.5 percent of voters polled plan to vote for Young, which should be rounded up to 45 percent, not down to 44 percent. 

Erica Martinson

Erica Martinson is a former reporter for the Anchorage Daily News based in Washington, D.C.