Mary Peltola: Democrats, thank toxic Sarah Palin, not Trump, for flipping AK House seat

By Lee Cleveland - November 26, 2022

CNN has projected Alaska Rep. Mary Peltola, the Democrat who won a special election that sent her to the U.S. House of Representatives this summer, will once again thwart former Gov. and Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s bid for a political comeback in the Land of the Midnight Sun.

And as was the case last summer, Peltola will win the race by defeating two Republican challengers via the state’s ranked-choice voting tabulation.

Ranked-Choice Voting (courtesy Ballotopedia)

  1. Voters rank the candidates for a given office by preference on their ballots.
  2. If a candidate wins an outright majority of first-preference votes (i.e., 50 percent plus one), he or she will be declared the winner.
  3. If, on the other hand, no candidates win an outright majority of first-preference votes, the candidate with the fewest first-preference votes is eliminated.
  4. All first-preference votes for the failed candidate are eliminated, lifting the next-preference choices indicated on those ballots.
  5. A new tally is conducted to determine whether any candidate has won an outright majority of the adjusted voters.
  6. The process is repeated until a candidate wins a majority of votes cast.

In red state of Alaska, Mary Peltola, the Democrat, received, by far, the most first-choice votes in November’s general election. And that wasn’t surprising because the Republican vote was split. However, because she didn’t breach 50 percent, the ranked-choice process was implemented.

As shown above, the two Republican candidates, combined, Palin and Nick Begich III, received a few hundred more votes than Peltola. So, Republicans should have had an advantage in the ranked-choice voting, right?

Not in this case.

A whopping 15 percent of the 51,000 Begich supporters who listed a Peltola or Palin as a second option preferred the Democrat. And because Peltola, in Round 1, was so close to 50 percent (48.7) to begin with, it didn’t take much to put her over the top.

Palin’s decision to run arguably cost the GOP the seat because she a) split first-choice voting among Republicans and b) was too toxic and divisive to woo enough right-leaners in Alaska.

So how does that work?

Based on the numbers in November’s general election, Palin would have certainly lost in a head-to-head race against Peltola and ultimately reduced her party’s chances of flipping that seat by, again, injecting herself into a contest where her fellow Republican would have been a slight favorite had she stepped aside.

In a hypothetical Peltola vs Begich head-to-head race, Palin’s MAGA Republican supporters would have universally supported Begich, who they would have seen as the lesser of two evils. As a result, Begich would have been the first choice for all of his core supporters and for probably at least 90 percent of Palin’s MAGA supporters.

But, as we saw in November, the feeling for Palin wasn’t mutual among Begich’s Republican supporters as only 70 percent of them listed her as their second option.

Hence, a lot of Republicans who supported Begich clearly didn’t want Palin as their representative. Whereas they could have, in unison, easily placed a checkmark by her name as their second choice, 15 percent of them selected Peltola, and about the same percentage refused to choose either as their backup candidate.

Election 2024
If Palin or another toxic MAGA candidate doesn’t run for Alaska’s lone House seat in 2024, Peltola will likely get a formidable challenge. As a result, Peltola & Co must continue to make inroads among Alaska’s independents and moderates.

… And they’re off to a fine start so far.

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Tags: 2022 Midterm Elections, MAGA