PPP's new Alaska poll finds Mark Begich with pretty decent approval numbers, and leads over the Republicans who have most frequently been mentioned as possible challengers for him next year.
Begich has a 49% approval rating, with 39% of voters disapproving of him. He's holding up pretty well in the Republican leaning state because independents give him good marks by a 54/32 margin, and he has crossover support from 24% of GOP voters.
In hypothetical head to heads Begich leads Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan 47/41, Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell 47/39, former Lieutenant Governor Loren Leman 50/40, former Governor Sarah Palin 54/38, and 2010 nominee Joe Miller 58/30. Palin's numbers are a reflection of her continuing to be very unpopular on the home front- 34% of voters see her positively to 59% with a negative opinion. She looks popular by comparison to Miller though- he has only a 20% favorability rating with 63% of voters giving him poor marks.
The one Republican who would start out even with Begich is Governor Sean Parnell- the two are knotted at 48. But only 10% of Alaskans say they would like for Parnell to make a Senate bid next year and even among GOP voters 56% want Parnell to run for reelection as Governor compared to only 13% who want him to run for the Senate.
Back to the Senate race, there's one very piece of good news for Republicans in this poll. Joe Miller has a negative favorability rating with Republican voters- 35/46- and finishes fourth in a hypothetical primary field. Sullivan leads the way with 29% to 23% for Treadwell, 20% for Leman, and 19% for Miller. Miller looks like one Tea Party candidate who GOP leaders in Washington probably don't have to worry about their party nominating next year.
The Alaska Senate race is certainly likely to be close next year. But Mark Begich has proven to be pretty popular during his first term, and he won't be easy to defeat.
Full results here