The Incredible Shrinking Joe Miller

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 28 2010 8:28 AM

The Incredible Shrinking Joe Miller

It's Alaska, and polls have less of a one-to-one correlation to reality than they do in other places, but this is not good for Joe Miller. According to Hays Research, a month of brutal coverage and mini-scandals has driven Miller into third place in the race for U.S. Senate. The trendlines from October 6:

Write-In (LIsa Murkowski) - 34% (+3)
Scott McAdams (D) - 29% (+13)
Joe Miller (R) - 23% (-8)

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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MudFlats spells out how brutal it it out there:

The percentage of those who feel either "somewhat negative" or "very negative" about Miller has skyrocketed in recent weeks to an unbelievable 68%. Only 8% feel "somewhat negative" and the remainder, a jaw-dropping 60%,  feel "very negative" about Miller as a candidate.

A series of gaffes, inconsistencies, and controversial statements to the press, in addition to the arrest of a journalist by Miller security guards have come one on top of another, causing a trend that can only be described as a campaign death spiral. Miller’s hard-core supporters who view him very favorably have held in there, showing a decrease of only 3% since October 6, but his "somewhat favorable" rating went from 20% to 9% in that time. Miller’s "somewhat unfavorable" rating dipped from 13% to 8%, underscoring the voter stampede toward "very unfavorable" which skyrocketed from 38% to 60% in less than three weeks.

After Miller and Christine O'Donnell won, I argued that the Tea Party Express/Palin endorsement strategy looked like that of an investor buying penny stocks -- spend a little effort in a state with few Republican primary voters and you can score an easy win. The problem is that neither Palin nor the Tea Party is very popular in Alaska or Delaware.

Let's just consider the Palin politics. In one scenario, O'Donnell loses while Miller wins, and Palin looks like a RINO-killer with some limited success. In another scenario, O'Donnell loses and Murkowski wins, and Palin has lost an election in her own state. And in the nightmare sceario, O'Donnell loses and McAdams wins, which would mean Palin cost the GOP two safe seats in the U.S. Senate. That last scenario is still unlikely, but it would be a real mess, especially if Democrats ended up holding the Senate by only one or two votes.

UPDATE: Miller isn't exactly dodging Christine O'Donnell comparisons.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.