So Donald Trump held a rally in Anchorage, Alaska, over the weekend to boost his endorsees Sarah Palin (for the U.S. House) and Kelly Tshibaka (for the U.S. Senate). He mainly made news by dropping an F-bomb and calling Elon Musk a “bullshit artist.”
But to the extent that their identification with the 45th president helps his Alaska endorsees, they need it. Fresh polling based on the state’s new electoral system shows Palin and Tshibaka in some trouble.
Palin survived the first round of voting in a House special election (to replace the late Don Young) on June 11, leading the top four in the nonpartisan primary and thus advancing to an August 16 general election. That contest was given a new twist when third-place finisher Al Gross dropped out, leaving Palin facing Republican Nick Begich III and Democrat Mary Peltola. Alaska now uses ranked-choice voting in general elections, so after the vote on August 16, the third-place candidate will be eliminated and her or his vote reallocated based on second-choice votes, giving one of the remaining candidates a majority and the victory. The new poll from Alaska Survey Research shows Palin running 11 points behind Peltola and two points behind Begich, who consolidates Republican votes and defeats Peltola 57-43.
Also on August 16, a large field of candidates will compete for a full term in that very same House seat. ASR shows the same outcome, with Palin running third in the top-four primary, third in the general election, and nowhere in the final results (Begich is shown to win the full term, too).
Palin’s only hope in either the special or general election is to finish ahead of Begich and then hope Republicans are loyal enough to her in this red state to beat Peltola despite signs of anti-Palin sentiment in the GOP.
Tshibaka, Trump’s handpicked candidate to purge three-term incumbent Republican Lisa Murkowski (who voted to convict Trump on impeachment charges in February 2021) is doing a bit better in the ASR polls. She is running first in the primary, leading Murkowski 43-35, with Democrat Patricia Chesbro (at 17 percent) also making the general election, along with Alaska Independence Party candidate Dustin Darden (at 5 percent). Under ranked-choice voting, Tshibaka and Chesbro split Darden’s second-choice votes, but then when Chesbro is eliminated, Murkowski wins 52-48, vindicating her strategy of being a Republican whom Democrats don’t hate. But her win over Tshibaka is as close as Begich’s over Palin in the House race, so look for some more MAGA venom to be aimed at the two front-runners in the very near future.