Sarah Palin suffers surprise upset in Alaska election — Analysis

Republicans blamed the state’s new ranked choice voting system for the former governor’s loss

Democrat Mary Peltola has won an election to fill Alaska’s lone seat in the US House of Representatives, defeating former Governor Sarah Palin. Republicans argued that Palin’s loss in such a deep red state was attributable to a new kind of voting system that favors more moderate candidates.

The Alaska Division of Elections declared Peltola the winner Wednesday night, narrowly beating Palin 51% to 49%. Running against a candidate as nationally known as Palin in a state that voted for Donald Trump by 10 points in 2020, Peltola’s victory came as a surprise to some poll-watchers.

Peltola will be the first Democrat to hold Alaska’s House seat since 1973, with Republican Rep. Don Young holding the position from then until his death in March. Her election will be her first as a Native Alaskan to Congress.

Palin dominated a primary election in June, winning 27% of the vote to Peltola’s 10%. However, the special election was the state’s first to utilize a ranked-choice system, where voters pick multiple candidates in order of preference, with the lowest scoring candidates eliminated in successive rounds of counting and their votes being redistributed according to the second, third, and lower preferences indicated on their first-choice ballots.

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Nick Begich (a moderate Republican) also ran for the election, and finished third. However, Begich’s voters did not give enough second preference votes to Palin to propel the firebrand conservative across the finish line. The moderate Republicans viewed a Democrat to be a better choice than Palin.

“The most important lesson we can learn as we head into 2022’s general election is that the ranked vote voting demonstrated that a Sarah Palin vote was a Mary Peltola voter.”Begich made the statement in a statement. Alaskans simply don’t give enough support for Palin to win an election.”

Others thought it was unfair for a Democrat to win an election in which the Republican candidate (including Tara Sweeney who got just below 4%) took home 61% of all first-preference votes. Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton calledThe ranked selection system “a scam to rig elections.”

“The people of Alaska do not want the destructive democrat agenda to rule our land and our lives, but that’s what resulted from someone’s experiment with this new crazy, convoluted, confusing ranked-choice voting system,”Palin stated in a statement that the ranked-choice system was a “sham” “mistake.”

With the election deciding who will represent Alaska for the remainder of Young’s term, voters in the US’ largest congressional district by area will go to the polls again in November.  

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