Ed and I have been trying to game out how we’ll handle blogging the late late late night returns on Tuesday from Alaska. I’d been dreading having to post at 4 a.m., but now I’m looking forward to it for the simple reason that waiting on numbers that late will at least mean the race is close.

Eeyoreblogger pessimism status check: Spiking.

The poll, conducted by Dittman Research & Communications, shows Murkowski leading attorney Joe Miller (R), 37 percent to 27 percent, with the Democrat, Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams, in third place with 23 percent. Thirteen percent chose other candidates or were undecided.

Replicating the write-in process in a phone survey can be difficult, but the technique used by pollster Dave Dittman is unique to most public polls of the race. Respondents are first asked an open-ended question about their vote preference, and their choice of candidate is recorded. If the respondent is unable to make a choice, he or she is read the names of the candidates on the ballot, with the option of a write-in candidate. In order to choose Murkowski, the respondent must choose the write-in option and provide her name.

According to Dittman’s polls of the race over the past two months, Murkowski’s support has remained quite steady in the mid- to upper-30s. Miller began the general campaign, just days after upsetting Murkowski in the GOP primary, at 32%, but his support this month has fluctuated in the mid- to upper-20s as his negatives have risen.

In other words, it’s not that Murkowski’s trending upwards, it’s that people in Miller’s column are trending back towards undecided. There’s actually another poll out within the last 24 hours showing Murkowski up double digits, but that one was commissioned by a pro-Lisa group and is being touted on the anti-Miller Alaska Dispatch site (the one edited by the guy who got ‘cuffed at that Miller event), so who knows if it’s worth anything. Either way, though, the trends here are obviously poor. (But then, we already knew that.) Sarahcuda’s rally yesterday was the last chance to turn it around. Is there enough magic left?

Via TLC, here’s your metaphor of the day — Palin trying to climb a mountain in Alaska. Click the image to watch.