Why Peltola and Murkowski are well positioned to win re-election

Why Peltola and Murkowski are well positioned to win re-election

Why Peltola and Murkowski are well positioned to win re-election

Why Peltola and Murkowski are well positioned to win re-election
Senator Lisa Murkowski spoke to reporters at her campaign headquarters on Election Day. (Liz Ruskin/Alaska Public Media)

In Alaska’s primary races, the incumbents are in a good position to win, but will have to wait until Nov. 23 to be sure. Then the third and fourth placed candidates will be eliminated and the ranked choices will be shown in the table.

Alaska Public Media Washington Correspondent Liz Ruskin explains why the results so far look good for incumbent moderates.


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The following transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

Casey Grove: Liz, in the Senate race, explains how Lisa Murkowski is likely to win. Because she is standing behind Kelly Tshibaka in the first choice election.

Liz Ruskin: Murkowski is behind, by about 3,000 votes, according to an update this afternoon. That could close a bit as more mail-in ballots arrive. And, as you said, we’re only talking about first-choice votes so far.

Now, look at Democrat Pat Chesbro’s total. She won almost 10% of the votes, or 20,000 votes. On how many of those ballots is Murkowski second? A lot, right? The data geeks I spoke with today think there are plenty of runners-up in the Chesbro poll for Murkowski’s re-election.

However, from what I hear, Tshibaka has a narrow path to possible victory.

CG: Okay, so in the race for America’s home, Mary Peltola is ahead. She has 47% of the vote. But the Republicans, Sarah Palin and Nick Begich, their total share is more than 50%. Doesn’t that suggest that Palin, who is in second place, could win once Begich is eliminated and the ballots in his pile are transferred to Palin?

LR: Technically, it is possible. But the vast majority of Begic voters would have to rank Palin second, and that seems unlikely. In the special election, about half of his voters chose Palin as their running mate. And about a third chose Peltola. Even if you think a lot more Begic voters would “rank red” this time around, we know some of his voters don’t like Palin, some don’t like ranked choice voting and won’t rank, and Peltola is going to get at least a small portion of those Begic voters votes. So it just doesn’t seem likely that there are enough other votes for Palin on those ballots for her to overtake Peltola. Again, Peltola is at 47%. Palin is at 27%. That’s a lot of compensation.

CG: Can you put these results in the context of national elections?

LR: We are still waiting to see who will win the majority in the House and Senate. It seems likely that the Republicans could gain the lead in the House and the Democrats could hold the Senate. If so, and if Alaska’s leaders win, they would be in the minority in both chambers.

CG: So that would mean no chairmanship of the committees for Alaska, right?

LR: Yes, but there are a lot of “ifs” in that scenario. Many races remain undecided. Control of the Senate appears to hinge on a runoff in Georgia next month. One way Alaska IS like the rest of the country is that the candidates endorsed by former President Donald Trump — Kelly Tshibaka in the Senate race and Sarah Palin for the House — don’t appear to be on a slippery slope to victory.

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