5 things to watch in every state: Alaska

Again, I want to write more about the elections happening in 2016 than any other rational person would or should.  Here are five things I’m watching for in Alaska on November 8th.

  1. Presidential Election: According to some people, prior to the announcement of Sarah Palin as John McCain’s Vice President, Barack Obama was targeting Alaska as a state that he could potentially win.  I’m not sure how much I really buy it but there’s that.  In 2012, Alaska had the third highest % for Libertarian Party Presidential nominee Gary Johnson with 2.46% (behind only New Mexico and weirdly Montana).  7.45% of the votes cast in 2012 for Congress in Alaska were for a third Party candidate including 5.19% for the Libertarian Party nominee. In 2014, this actually increased to 8.07% of the Congressional votes were for third party candidates including 7.61% of the vote being given to the Libertarian Party candidate.  If the Presidential vote goes the way that I believe it is going, the election will be called prior to the polls closing in Alaska.  But if Gary Johnson is going to get close to 5% of the vote nationally for the Libertarian Party, he is going to need a strong showing in Alaska.  I don’t think he is going to be able to pull enough votes to give Hillary Clinton Alaska’s electoral votes, what I am interested in is the ceiling of Gary Johnson both nationally and in the state of Alaska.
  2. Alaska’s At Large Congressional District: Don Young (R) is running for re-election, again.  He won in 2014 with 51% of the vote and 142,572 votes compared to 41% of the vote for Forrest Dunbar the Democratic challenger.  Dunbar received 114,602 votes.  There were a total of 279,741 votes cast in the 2014 Congressional race.  This was only a slight decrease from 2012 where 289,804 votes were cast.  Young lost 43,000 votes from 2012 to 2014.  The Democratic challenger gained 30,000 votes from 2012 to 2014.  The Libertarian candidate Jim McDermott gained 6,000 votes from 2012 to 2014.  If you’re trying to make an argument for a Congressional upset, then you are probably making an argument that the Democratic candidate’s gains are real, the Libertarian candidate makes a slightly bigger jump with Johnson’s coattails, and possibly slightly depressed Republican turnout.
  3. Ballot Measure 1: This Ballot Measure would essentially allow for universal registration for voting through the dividend fund.  I do believe that we should have universal voting registration because it helps to make voting even easier.  The criticism of the measure is that it would cost extra money and that the people who are going to be registered are more or less lazy, as there are many different ways to currently register to vote.  In Alaska, it is likely that many voters do not have driver’s licenses but are a part of the permanent dividend fund.  I think that this measure passes and we are getting one step closer to universal voting registration.
  4. Alaska State Senate District H: There’s not very many competitive state legislature races in Alaska.  Democratic candidate Bill Wielechowski is running for election in District H of Alaska.  He won re-election in District G in 2012 with 56.2% of the vote against Republican Bob Roses.  His district was changed when the redistricting process went through and it was changed to District H.  I’m only bringing him up as it is potentially the closest State Senate election in Alaska on November 8.
  5. Alaska House of Representatives, District 21: Again, there’s not very many competitive elections in Alaska. District 21 is the exception and is being targeted by the Republican State Leadership Committee.  The current representative is Democratic Party’s Matt Claman.  He won election in 2014 for District 21 with 3,849 votes winning the election by 90 votes over the Republican candidate Anand Dubey. In 2014, it was more likely to be a Republican year but as we saw with Young’s Congressional election, it seems that many Republicans didn’t vote then.  Claman is running for re-election and is a slight favorite for re-election but it’s possible that he loses to Marilyn Stewart because there’s some money and time being spent to flip the seat. This one will be fun to watch on November 8th and possibly later.