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Alaska: Could it truly be a swing state between McCain and Obama?

August 14, 2008 |  6:10 am

The Tickets begs your indulgence; we are absolutely enthralled by the prospect of a barn-burner of a presidential race in Alaska. And although it's only August, a new poll suggests that such a prospect has a chance of becoming reality.

The survey by the Anchorage-based Hays Research Group on Aug. 6 and 7 found Barack Obama -- improbably to us -- leading John McCain, 45% to 40%, in the fight for Alaska's 3 electoral votes (which haven't gone to a Democratic presidential candidate since Lyndon Johnson in his 1964 landslide).

True, the survey has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4.9 percentage points. And precedent argues that the Land of the Midnight Sun will revert to its true-red Republican form as election day nears.

But when we asked the poll's veteran research director, Anne Hays, when she last recalled anything as seemingly competitive as this year's presidential matchup appears to be in the state, she paused and said, "I don't think I was in business then."

And asked if she thought that competitiveness would be sustained into November, she replied, "I think we're definitely in play."

Obama, Hays said, is benefiting in part from scandals that have rocked Republicans -- the state's dominant political players -- in recent years. The spotlight on these miscues intensified recently with the indictment of Alaska's numero uno Republican, Sen. Ted Stevens, on federal charges related to a corruption probe.

-- Don Frederick