Republican gubernatorial candidate Mike Dunleavy has strong polling lead over Independent Gov. Bill Walker and Democratic challenger Mark Begich, according to a survey released Thursday by pollster Ivan Moore.

Dunleavy has put 21 points between himself and incumbent Walker, who also trails Begich, a late entry just five months ago and whose candidacy essentially created a three-way race.

Conducted Sept. 21-25, the poll has Dunleavy with 44 percent support; Begich gained 29 percent backing and Walker earned nearly 23 percent.

Moore said in a live interview with KTVA that Dunleavy has, "kind of pushed out even further in front. And there's still this unresolved dynamic between Begich and Walker, essentially splitting the vote, competing in the same pool as the kind of anti-Dunleavay candidate. But we figured it would probably be a good idea to have an independent series of polls that gave voters some information between now and Nov. 6."

Moore writes his survey, the first of five ahead of the election, is funded by a “consortium of varied interests,” later adding, it’s “no funding has been or will be accepted from any of the three campaigns,” and his firm is not working for any of the three campaigns during campaign season.

"A growing number of Alaskans are ready for bold new leadership,” Dunleavy said in a prepared email statement. “It’s time to make our neighborhoods safe again, grow our economy and pay Alaskans back full Permanent Fund Dividends. The only poll that really counts is the one on Nov. 6."

Walker campaign manager John-Henry Heckendorn challenged Moore and said, Moore’s "polling has skewed heavily from other polls, both historically, and so far in this race.

“We expect additional polls to come out in the next couple of weeks, and we expect they will continue to show different results from Ivan Moore,” he said.

The survey featured 500 registered Alaskan voters -- 150 by landline and 350 on cellular phones -- who were certain or likely to vote in the Nov. 6 election.

It also has a 4.5 percent error margin, putting Dunleavy’s figures safely within the margin of error.

Of the 500 voters surveyed, 342 of them were white, 49 defined themselves as mixed race and 46 Alaska Natives.

Of those responding, 288 people live either in Anchorage or the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. Another 97 live in the Kenai Peninsula or Fairbanks, leaving 115 for the rest of the state.

Respondents were also asked for a second choice. Based on these calculations, Dunleavy narrowly defeats Begich but still handily beats Walker; Begich also defeats Walker.

In a prepared statement, Begich campaign spokeswoman Rachel Barinbaum said:

“Even amidst the millions of dollars pouring in from Mike Dunleavy's Outside friends, Mark Begich and Mike Dunleavy are in a statistical dead heat demonstrating that voters are lining up behind Mark Begich and his vision- from protecting the PFD and our schools to cracking down on crime - because they know Mike Dunleavy is so extreme he is dangerous."

Moore said the next poll will be released Oct. 6 and feature the same methodology.

"The numbers will, of course, change because the campaigns will gear up and that's the whole point of campaigns; it makes numbers change," he said.
"That will be the really interesting thing.  It's basically going to be every nine days and the methodology will be exactly the same, same sample size, and we'll see which way it goes.

Copyright 2018 KTVA. All rights reserved.

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