Miller Hopes Palin Touch Will Lead to Second Primary Upset

Joe Miller, trailing badly in a three-way race for the Alaska Republican Party’s Senate nomination, would love to see the old Sarah Palin magic sprinkle enough deja vu dust on his campaign to propel him to another upset victory.

Palin has endorsed Miller in his Alaska GOP Senate primary campaign. Miller sent the news to his followers in a fundraising email Aug. 15, just four days before Republicans will decide who will be their candidate to run against Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska).

Palin backed Miller in a written statement to Fox News that was released earlier that day, according to the quote that Miller’s team included in their request for campaign donations.

“The status quo has got to go, and in Alaska the man who understands this key to our state and country's future also has the guts, wisdom, experience and optimism to fight for what is right -- and win,” Palin said.

Palin and Miller have history, and the Miller campaign would love to see that history repeat itself, and then make some new history.

It was a Palin endorsement that fueled the Miller primary upset over Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) in 2010. However, that’s where the Miller team would like to see the deja vu all over again end.

The Palin magic did not last long enough.

Murkowski mounted a write-in campaign and defeated Miller in the general election.

Bad news for Miller. It could be the Palin magic won’t have the pizzazz it had in 2010. A Public Policy Polling survey of Alaska voters released three days before the Palin endorsement of Miller shows her star is fading.

Only 36 percent of Alaska voters have a favorable opinion of their former governor as compared to 55 percent who view her negatively.

Miller’s not the only GOP senatorial primary candidate who can point to support with a Palin connection. The Mead Treadwell campaign quickly pointed out Aug. 15 that Palin’s father-in-law, Jim Palin, endorsed their candidate.

Dan Sullivan, who has been leading the three-candidate GOP Senate primary field since Day One, also has a Palin connection, though not a Palin endorsement. He was her attorney general.

The Public Policy Polling survey released Aug. 3 shows the Republican primary race has tightened a bit, but Sullivan still leads the field with 33.5 percent of likely Alaska GOP primary voters expecting to cast their ballot for him. Treadwell is next with 26 percent. Miller has 17.5 percent support.

The PPP survey contained good news for both Treadwell and Miller.

Sullivan's six-point lead is down from a 14 point advantage in May. His support has dropped from 40 percent to 35 percent, while Treadwell has gone from 26 percent to 29 percent.

Don’t count Miller out just yet. His numbers have shown the biggest improvement in the PPP surveys.

Miller’s support has climbed from 14 percent to 20 percent.

PPP says the odds of a Miller upset are still pretty minuscule with him 15 points out of first place, but it has to make Republicans slightly more nervous than they were when he was 26 points out.

It is important to remember who is mostly likely to show up at the polls on primary day: the party’s base.

And the PPP survey shows there is a significant ideological divide in this race.

Treadwell leads the pack in the eyes of moderate voters, getting 48 percent to 26 percent for Sullivan and just 9 percent for Miller.

However, as is always the case with Republican primary electorates, there are far more conservatives than moderates, and that may make it hard for Treadwell to snag the nomination.

With conservatives, the advantage goes to Sullivan, but Miller is nipping at his heels as should be expected.