The two new polls today frame the race between Palin and Knowles as a toss up.
Here's a recap, plus a little more detail:
-- First Craciun Research conducted a statewide poll on Oct. 7-15 that show Knowles and Palin tied with 43 percent of the vote, according to Jean Paal, a research analyst for Craciun.
Halcro: 6 percent
Undecided: 8 percent
Alaska Newspapers Inc. paid for the poll – there’s a story in their papers today – and the margin of error was about 5 percent with a sample size of 418 likely voters.
-- Then another Anchorage pollster, Marc Hellenthal, conducted a poll Oct. 18-21, with Knowles leading by a sliver over Palin, 43 to 42 percent.
Halcro: 7 percent
Undecided: 9 percent
The margin was plus or minus 6 percent, with a sample size of 273. Lobbyist Sam Kito paid for the poll, though Hellenthal said he didn’t know which of Kito’s clients it was for.
Compare that to a Sept. 10 poll Hellenthal conducted that had Palin up 7 percent.
So what to make of the numbers? Paal said the lesson here is simply that it’s potentially a very close race, but said that when the numbers are this tight, you have to pay attention to the margin of error.
“It could be as far apart as 38-48 (percent)”, she said of the Craciun poll.
As for the Palin campaign, spokesman Curtis Smith said that: “Polls don’t dictate how hard we work to get Sarah’s message out.”
“When we get to the headquarters every day, we just assume were down in the polls, and we’ve been acting that way for a couple months,” he said.
He also questioned the pollsters, calling Craciun a “Democratic” pollster and saying Hellenthal had Binkley winning in the Republican primary. (Binkley, of course, lost by double digits to Palin, which a Craciun poll predicted in July.)
I talked to Hellenthal about the primary today.
He said that his polls didn’t show Binkley ahead at any point after May 15.
Binkley did release poll numbers in July that showed him leading in the primary. But Hellenthal said those numbers weren’t the whole picture and “did not reflect the full group of likely voters.”