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  Talk Elections
  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion
  Presidential Election Trends (Moderator: Virginiá)
  Alaska?
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Author Topic: Alaska?  (Read 3339 times)
hurricanehink
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« on: February 25, 2016, 02:08:11 pm »

I know Alaska hasn't voted for the Democrats for president since 1964, but the state seems like it should be ripe for investment for the Democratic Party. There are plenty of the same liberals who populate Oregon and Washington, but who have a libertarian streak. The citizens rely on plenty of pork spending (much infrastructure provided by longtime Senator Stevens), while at the same time relying on money from the state due to oil revenues. If not for Alaska's remote location and the oil money (which is decreasing now due to the lowering oil prices), would this be an area for Democrats to invest in the future?

In 2012, Alaska increased its share of votes to President Obama to 40.81%, up from 37.89% in 2008. Some might argue this is a Palin effect, that she was on the ballot in '08 helped her. It's possibly true - the number of Republican votes declined by 29,165 from 2008 to 2012, while Democratic votes declined just 954 votes, indictating stable Democratic turnout, and a sizable base. However, 2008 also had a competitive house race (Berkowitz was the former minority leader of the Alaskan House), and a competitive Senate race in which Begich won (barely) over Ted Stevens. 2012 was a fairly neutral election - the house race had a state representative as the Democratic candidate, and Democrats still did well.

Meanwhile, in the Republican wave of 2014 that saw the GOP winning in Maryland, Massachusetts, Florida, Illinois, and Colorado, a random attorney did better in Alaska's at-large house race (winning 31,675 more votes than the state representative did in 2012, and increasing percentage of votes from 28.61% in 2012 to 40.97% in 2014). Also, while Mark Begich lost the senate race, he only dropped 22,336 votes from his win in 2008. This was less than the number of Republican votes for president lost from 2008 to 2012.



Here is a little sheet showing the voting totals from 2004 to 2014, for each major election in the state. For 2010 senate, I included the write-in votes for Murkowski and for the official Republican candidate.

A little analysis is needed. For House races, there is an average of 280,977 votes cast overall. For Senate, the number is 291,796. For Governor it is 258,152, and for President it is 313,478. As Senate and President has the highest overall votes (and higher percentage of the vote typically helps Democrats nationwide), I'll focus on them. The Democrats have received on average 120,417 votes for the Senate, and 119,086 votes for the Presidency, both very close. This is compared to the Republicans getting 155,796 votes for the Senate and 183,135 for the Presidency.

But 2012, a fairly neutral election for Alaska, saw the Republicans dip down to 164,676 votes, below their average. This was just 12,909 votes more than what Mark Begich won in 2008, which was the most votes a Democrat got in the state since 2004. 12,909 votes is just 4.3% of the total votes cast in 2012.

TL;DR summary:
If I was head of the Democratic Party of Alaska, I would study closely how Mark Begich got out such a strong coalition in 2008. The answer isn't simply about Stevens' indictment - Begich was winning in polls as early as December 2007, well before the indictment in July 2008, and Stevens outperformed the polling (only one poll had him receiving a higher percentage of votes than he received). I would invest in some ground game to make up the 4.3% of votes that they could theoretically need to win in the state. If not for 2016, then do it for 2020 when there will be another senate race lining up with the presidential.

PS - I'm relatively new here, and I tried posting an image, but it didn't work for me. Mods, if anyone could help, that would be greatly appreciated. I'm just trying to back up my thoughts in this quirky, fun, political community.
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d32123
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« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2016, 02:17:21 pm »

Great post!

Seems high cost low reward for the national party to invest in a state like Alaska, but it's obvious that it's shifting on its own somewhat as it grows more cosmopolitan and the Natives start voting.
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cxs018
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« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2016, 02:44:22 pm »

I'd have to agree. Alaska and Montana could definitely be potential Democratic flips if the Democrats invested enough in them.
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Sol
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« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2016, 02:50:37 pm »

Great post!

Seems high cost low reward for the national party to invest in a state like Alaska, but it's obvious that it's shifting on its own somewhat as it grows more cosmopolitan and the Natives start voting.

The Natives have been voting; just less heavily for the Democrats than presently.
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mathstatman
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« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2016, 03:19:04 pm »

AK is definitely in play for Dems. With today's sharply divided, close elections, every EV counts.
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hurricanehink
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« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2016, 04:41:20 pm »

Great post!

Seems high cost low reward for the national party to invest in a state like Alaska, but it's obvious that it's shifting on its own somewhat as it grows more cosmopolitan and the Natives start voting.
Thank! I know Begich heavily courted the native vote, perhaps that helped him despite an otherwise terrible night for Democrats.
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Kalwejt
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« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2016, 04:48:40 pm »

I remember polls in 2008 showing Alaska being competetive until Palin was tapped by McCain. It was still a longshot, tho.
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Orser67
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« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2016, 05:24:55 pm »

For presidential elections, Alaska is basically irrelevant. A 3 EV state with a PVI of R+12 doesn't deserve a huge investment. But for Senate elections, states like Alaska (and Montana, the Dakotas, Indiana, and Missouri) that have shown a willingness to elect Democrats are critical. With the decline of Southern Democrats, the party really need to expand beyond blue and even swing states if they want to keep up with the GOP in the Senate.
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RINO Tom
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« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2016, 09:50:08 pm »

Great post!

Seems high cost low reward for the national party to invest in a state like Alaska, but it's obvious that it's shifting on its own somewhat as it grows more cosmopolitan and the Natives start voting.

Hardly a sign of growing Democratic percentage ... especially considering the cosmopolitan areas in Alaska are more Republican than the rural areas.

Not everywhere is Virginia or North Carolina, though we only seem to focus on those places because their "switching" has a lot more electoral significance.  I was reading a great article the other day about how Arkansas' growth has directly resulted in increased Republican strength, and the fastest growing areas are heavily Republican metropolitan areas that (even by the mid-2000s) were starting to exert their power over the more traditionally Democratic countryside.
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d32123
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« Reply #9 on: February 26, 2016, 01:27:58 am »

Great post!

Seems high cost low reward for the national party to invest in a state like Alaska, but it's obvious that it's shifting on its own somewhat as it grows more cosmopolitan and the Natives start voting.

Hardly a sign of growing Democratic percentage ... especially considering the cosmopolitan areas in Alaska are more Republican than the rural areas.

Not everywhere is Virginia or North Carolina, though we only seem to focus on those places because their "switching" has a lot more electoral significance.  I was reading a great article the other day about how Arkansas' growth has directly resulted in increased Republican strength, and the fastest growing areas are heavily Republican metropolitan areas that (even by the mid-2000s) were starting to exert their power over the more traditionally Democratic countryside.

It also helps that all the white Arkansas Democrats literally died.
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Adam Griffin
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« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2016, 01:04:32 am »

Alaska definitely needs investment, and it frankly wouldn't take all that much to reach maximum saturation in terms of effect.

Worth noting: Alaska is the only swing to swing Democratic in the past three elections.

2000: Bush +30.95
2004: Bush +25.55
2008: McCain +21.53
2012: Romney +13.99

Something is definitely going on. You're already at the point where Democrats can play in Senatorial elections; the fact that Begich won in the first place - and then lost by only 2 points in a midterm wave - should be all the justification in the world needed for consistent infrastructure to be put into place.
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Young Conservative
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« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2016, 11:30:31 pm »

It isn't worth it electorally for democratic to invest money and they care about the constitution and liberty. Never a democrat state.
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Virginiá
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« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2016, 12:39:30 am »

It isn't worth it electorally for democratic to invest money and they care about the constitution and liberty. Never a democrat state.

During 1933 - 1994, Democrats had significant control over the Alaskan government for a large part of that time.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_party_strength_in_Alaska

All states all follow various trends and right now it's red up there with what appears to be a blue trend that has been developing for years now. There are reasons for this. So why the insult?
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Goldwater
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« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2016, 11:08:40 am »

Investing in Alaska seems like a high cost low reward strategy right now, but after few more elections I wouldn't be surprised if it become a Democratic equivalent to West Virginia anyway.
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ag
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« Reply #14 on: May 09, 2016, 01:38:48 pm »

The key word: Murkowski. The investment into Alaska, should be done through her/them.
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tara gilesbie
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« Reply #15 on: May 09, 2016, 02:57:45 pm »

It isn't worth it electorally for democratic to invest money and they care about the constitution and liberty. Never a democrat state.

During 1933 - 1994, Democrats had significant control over the Alaskan government for a large part of that time.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_party_strength_in_Alaska

All states all follow various trends and right now it's red up there with what appears to be a blue trend that has been developing for years now. There are reasons for this. So why the insult?

You can really see a great increase in red on that list after ANWR.
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ElectionsGuy
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« Reply #16 on: May 09, 2016, 04:24:27 pm »

Alaska definitely needs investment, and it frankly wouldn't take all that much to reach maximum saturation in terms of effect.

Worth noting: Alaska is the only swing to swing Democratic in the past three elections.

2000: Bush +30.95
2004: Bush +25.55
2008: McCain +21.53
2012: Romney +13.99

Something is definitely going on. You're already at the point where Democrats can play in Senatorial elections; the fact that Begich won in the first place - and then lost by only 2 points in a midterm wave - should be all the justification in the world needed for consistent infrastructure to be put into place.

He was the perfect fit for an Alaska Democrat with a very, very strong campaign, while Sullivan is your generic R. He won in the first place after the incumbent was indicted. Not exactly typical scenarios.

I would wait to see another election to see if it could be in play. I do think it is Likely R for a reason though.
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henster
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« Reply #17 on: May 09, 2016, 04:42:28 pm »

As long as AK has oil it will be a challenging state to win.
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Boston Bread
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« Reply #18 on: May 09, 2016, 06:07:36 pm »

Investing AK would be more reward than commonly thought since having 2 senate seats for relatively little cost is always yuge.
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RINO Tom
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« Reply #19 on: May 09, 2016, 07:29:40 pm »

The key word: Murkowski. The investment into Alaska, should be done through her/them.

You're going to win Alaska by touting one of its Republicans?
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sg0508
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« Reply #20 on: May 30, 2016, 05:16:41 pm »

While Nixon wasted precious time with trips to HI/AK in 1960, JFK and Co. went hardcore at NY, PA, TX, MO IL and MI over and over and over.  And, we know what the result was.

Even in 2004, when polls showed that HI may actually be halfway competitive, Bush's team made the mistake of sending people out there.  For four EVs, it wasn't worth it.  '04 was going to be won/lost with the same states that won/lost 2000, adding OH obviously to that mix.

In '16, the Democrats won't win/lose because of AK's three EVs. They will win/lose from the same states that have defined the road to 270 over the last few cycles. 
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Kingpoleon
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« Reply #21 on: May 30, 2016, 07:55:30 pm »

It would be pretty interesting if she put Begich on the ticket. That's a dark horse name, and he has quite a bit of appeal to the left-libertarians in states like AK, MT and the like.
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ag
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« Reply #22 on: May 30, 2016, 09:20:57 pm »

The key word: Murkowski. The investment into Alaska, should be done through her/them.

You're going to win Alaska by touting one of its Republicans?

Independent Republican Smiley Party lables might get even more fluid this time.
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« Reply #23 on: June 05, 2016, 01:22:32 am »

I hope this happens someday. My partner and I have been heavily considering moving to a less populous state, and Alaska is up there for us just in terms of sheer beauty and weather. Maybe in a decade or so, who knows? Some good points have been made that it's been swinging very hard towards D.
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« Reply #24 on: June 07, 2016, 01:30:25 am »

Think it could flip with Trump as the head of the GOP ticket?
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