Five too-early takeaways from Alaska's election
We really won't know the full outcome of Alaska's election until the RCV tabulation on Nov. 23.
It’s Wednesday, Alaska!
In this edition: It’ll be a few weeks before the dust fully settles on Alaska’s elections, but there were a handful of takeaways from Tuesday night. Let’s talk about the big five: The overreactions to the early numbers (or, oh no, we’re going to have U.S. Sen. Kelly Tshibaka!); U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola looks headed to a full term; Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s surprisingly strong performance, which may very well cut off the whole Gara/Walker debate before we get to tabulation; The legislative races are almost all up in the air, but there’s some early surprises; and the one thing we know for sure: Alaskans have soundly defeated a constitutional convention.
Current mood: 😴
Overreactions to early numbers
As has typically been the case in recent years, the election’s initial results weren’t super representative of the direction things would trend as the night went on. And, as has typically been the case in recent years, a lot of us seemed to forget that and watched with grim horror as Republican Kelly Tshibaka opened the night with a commanding 47% share of the vote while U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski trailed by about 6.5 points—making a comeback with the second-place votes of the 9% of voters who ranked Democrat Pat Chesbro seem like a long shot. It looked similarly grim down the ticket for moderate Republicans and Democrats in state legislative races who opened the night majorly down, particularly in Anchorage.
But, as Alaska Beacon’s James Brooks noted early in the evening, later-arriving votes from by-mail absentee and early in-person voting have historically pulled the results to the left. As I understand it, only one of the night’s updates included those left-leaning ballots and they certainly leaned left. As things currently sit from today’s tally, Murkowski (42.79%) has closed the gap on Tshibaka (44.26%) to a realistically make-up-able gap once the ranked-choice voting tabulation takes place on Nov. 23.
We don’t have a super clear idea of just how many ballots are left to count, in large part because they can still continue to arrive, but estimates put it well north of 20,000 ballots (217,500 have already been counted, making for a low turnout of 36.15%). The Division of Elections is expected to release updates in the afternoons here.
That’s full-term U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola, to you
It was a far less rocky night for U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola, who opened with an expected lead over her challengers and has only improved her position in the later reports. She currently sits at a strong 47.22% of the vote while Republican Sarah Palin once again topping Republican Nick Begich for the second-place finish. Peltola is certainly within striking distance of that outright majority needed to win the race outright but even if she doesn’t and the race goes to RCV tabulation, she likely doesn’t have a lot to sweat. Begich and Palin have continued their Three Stooges act from the primary election, bitterly fighting each other despite perfunctory appeals to “Rank the Red.”
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I’m shocked. Shocked! Well, not that shocked.
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