A new Alaska poll predicts the U.S. Senate race will be a runaway, with incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Begich landing 45 percent of the vote.
But in the fantasy face-off that looks nine months into the future, the current Alaska lieutenant governor -- and Republican hopeful for Begich's seat -- Mead Treadwell is nowhere to be found. The statewide telephone survey, conducted Sunday by Hays Research Group, assumes former state Department of Natural Resources commissioner Dan Sullivan will emerge as the Republican primary winner.
Treadwell was not considered because current Hays polling shows Sullivan with a "fairly solid lead" in the August primary election, said Adam Hays, the polling company's owner.
Thus, the poll presents a three-way race between Begich, Sullivan and Joe Miller, a Republican primary candidate who Hays said in a release announcing the poll results is "expected" to run in the November election as an independent candidate.
In the poll, Begich holds a wide margin over Sullivan, who gets only 33 percent of the projected vote. Miller gets 10 percent, Hays reported. To conduct the poll, which occurred on Feb. 9, 502 "likely general election voters" were interviewed over the phone by a real person, Hays said. Some 30 percent of the calls were to cell phones, according to Hays Research Group, which bills itself as independent polling firm. The company said it paid for the poll itself.
If future polls show Treadwell gaining in the primary vote, the polling firm will conduct a new poll that includes Treadwell, Adam Hays said.
Treadwell spokesman Fred Brown, who has been noted for his biting tweets on behalf of the campaign, emailed a statement about the poll saying that it contains "numerous flaws," including that it "ignores the space-time continuum" and shows a "disregard for the voters."
The subject line of his email read "Only in Doc Brown's world," a reference to the wild-haired, googly-eyed professor who built the sporty DeLorean time machine in the "Back to the Future" movie trilogy.
"The reality is Mead is the only candidate in the race with a successful record of winning statewide and he's the only candidate with the broad, statewide support needed to defeat Mark Begich in November," said Treadwell's spokesman.
Miller spokesman Randy DeSoto did not reply to a request for comment.
Hays, asked why Miller was included as an independent in the face-off, said in an email: "We have found that regardless of whether we include Joe Miller as an independent candidate in the poll, he has a dedicated following of 10 percent to 11 percent that will name him as a third party candidate either way. It just makes sense for us to include him on the poll."
Next month, the firm will ask the same question "with and without Miller as a third party candidate," said Hays.
Contact Alex DeMarban at alex(at)alaskadispatch.com.