Alaska should be a top tier pick up opportunity for Senate Republicans next year...but their top choice of a candidate is Sarah Palin. 36% of GOP primary voters in the state say they'd like Palin to be their standard bearer against Mark Begich to 26% for Mead Treadwell, 15% for Dan Sullivan, and 12% for Joe Miller. Palin leads mostly based on her strength with 'very conservative' voters where she gets 43% to 20% for Treadwell, but she also leads him 28/25 with moderates.
The problem for Republicans with a Palin candidacy is that even though she is in good standing with the party base, voters overall don't like her at all. She has a 39/58 favorability rating, including 33/64 with key independent voters. There's a lot of division about how strong her ties to the state even are anymore- only 47% of voters consider her to still be an Alaskan while 46% don't, and 37% of voters in the state think it would be more appropriate for her to run for the Senate from Arizona to 41% who say Alaska.
It all adds up to a 52/40 lead for Begich in a hypothetical match up with Palin. He leads by 21 points with independents, 56/35, and takes 20% of the Republican vote. It's a slight improvement for Palin from February when we found her trailing Begich 54/38, but she's very much in a hole.
The best Republican hope for this seat is Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell and the good news for the GOP is that if Palin sits it out he, and not 2010 nominee Joe Miller, is the next choice of the party base. In a three way primary Treadwell gets 33% to 25% for Sullivan and 24% for Miller. And in a head to head with Miller, Treadwell leads 53/30. Even among Republican primary voters Miller has a dreadful 26/53 favorability rating.
Alaskans are closely divided on Begich with 42% approving and 41% disapproving of him. Begich's biggest complication though is probably how voters in the state feel about Barack Obama- just 39% approve of the job he's doing to 57% who disapprove. Begich does lead Sullivan (46/39) and Miller (55/32) should either of them slip through the primary.
It definitely looks like the action in Alaska next year will be the Senate race. Governor Sean Parnell actually has approval numbers that could suggest some vulnerability- 44% give him good marks to 42% who disapprove. But he still has wide leads in hypothetical match ups with a quartet of potential Democratic opponents- he's up 13 on Ethan Berkowitz at 51/38, 19 on Bill Wielechowski at 52/33, 20 on Les Gara at 53/33, and 21 on Hollis French at 54/33. Parnell also looks pretty solid against a primary challenge from Bill Walker, leading him 60/22.
The Alaska House race is a similar story- Don Young isn't terribly popular with a 47/43 approval rating but he still leads potential Democratic challenger Matt Moore by 28 points at 56/28.
Full results here