Sarah Palin became Alaska’s most popular politician. Her local success led the then-Alaska governor to support John McCain as vice-presidential candidate in 2008. They were defeated by Barack Obama and Joe Biden after an unsuccessful campaign. Palin has sought this year the political resurrection of the hand of Donald Trump. Like other candidates sponsored by the former president, she has failed. Alaska has turned its back on him.
Palin has run twice this year for Alaska’s only seat in the House of Representatives. She was defeated in a special election in August over the death of the incumbent, but she had a new chance on November 8 in the legislative elections, this time for the usual two-year term. In one of the last seats that she still had to award and that she has lost again.
He has lost both times to Democrat Mary Peltola, the first Alaskan aboriginal descendant to reach the US Congress. Peltola’s victory is doubly commendable (and Palin’s defeat doubly painful) because Alaska is a distinctly Republican state. The last time a Democrat had won an election to the House of Representatives in Alaska was 50 years ago. Nick Begich did it after he died. The flight in which he was traveling from Anchorage to Juneau disappeared on October 16 of that year, probably submerged in the waters of the Gulf of Alaska, but his death was not declared legally until December 29, after his posthumous victory in November.
The Republican has fallen victim to the rejection she provokes in a good part of the voters and to an electoral system that punishes the most divisive candidates. Unlike most districts, where only one Democratic and one Republican candidate compete, in Alaska the four candidates with the most votes in the August primaries went to the polls. In this case, in addition to Peltola and Palin, there was also a Republican Nick Begich III (grandson of the Democrat who died 50 years ago) and a Libertarian candidate.
That has caused a split in the Republican vote. To further complicate matters, Alaska has a preferential voting system, whereby voters rank candidates according to their criteria. If no one receives more than 50% of the votes, the least voted are eliminated and their second choice is taken into account in a kind of automatic second round. Candidates like Palin, who provoke rejection, have it even more difficult.
In this case, already with the first votes, the difference was abysmal. Mary Peltola got 48.7% of the ballots, almost as many as Palin (25.8%) and Begich (23.4%) combined. The Libertarian candidate, Chris Bye, had less than 2%. Faced with such a distance, Palin’s appeals to the [segundo] useful vote in favor of the republicans have not served him at all. The counting of the ballots with the second preferences of the Bye and Begich voters have been enough for Peltola to pass the 50% threshold comfortably, as it already did in August.
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Trumpist before Donald Trump
In addition to a personal failure for Palin, the result is also a full-fledged defeat for Trumpism. It can be said that she was already a Trumpista before Trump because of her contempt for the media, her fondness for hoaxes, her climate denial, her ignorance of foreign policy, her defense of weapons and her populism . She supported Trump in his run for the White House, and the former president was now her biggest (and failed) guarantor.
Palin’s case is another example that shows the limitations of the apocalyptic discourse and Trump’s lack of respect for democracy (who has not yet recognized his defeat in the 2020 presidential elections). Candidates endorsed by Trump for the Senate in States that the Republicans aspired to win (New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Arizona and Nevada, among others, and waiting for the second round of Georgia) have failed. That has sparked a debate among Republicans about whether Trump is the candidate who can return them to the White House in 2024. Many see the victorious Ron DeSantis, who has swept Florida, as an alternative, but Trump remains very popular with the Republican base, those who vote in the primaries, so it will not be easy to separate him.
In Alaska, in any case, whoever is the Republican candidate in the 2024 presidential election has everything to win. Of course, the State has little weight (only three electoral votes, since they are always the same as congressmen: two senators and one representative, in this case) to decide the result.
The defeat of Trumpism in Alaska is even tougher for Trump because his Senate candidate for that state, Kelly Tshibaka, has also been defeated. He has done it in front of Lisa Murkowski, the only Republican senator among those who supported Trump’s conviction in the Senate in his political process. (impeachment) that passed the examination of the ballot boxes. Trump has declared her a political enemy and has turned to Tshibaka without success. Murkowski has received many Democratic votes. In the most obvious exception to the political polarization that the country is experiencing, Murkowski recommended voting Peltola for the House of Representatives and was reciprocated: the Democrat said she would vote for the Republican for the Senate.
With Murkowski, the three Republican congressmen who voted against Trump and survived the Republican primary sieve have won their seat. Of the 10 who voted in favor of impeachment in the House of Representatives, four withdrew and another four fell in the primaries against candidates supported by Trump. Only two of the 10 made the cut: David Valadao (California) and Dan Newhouse (Washington), who have finally been re-elected. Another defeat for Trump.
With the last seats awarded, the composition of the House of Representatives is almost completely decided. At the moment, the Republicans have 222 seats and the Democrats, 213. Two remain to be assigned, for the moment with a Republican advantage.
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