Democrat Mary Peltola has defeated Republican former Gov. Sarah Palin in an Alaska special election for the state’s only seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The shock loss sends a Democrat to the House from Alaska for the first time in 49 years.
Peltola will fill the remainder of former Rep. Don Young’s (R-AK) term in Congress but will only hold the seat until the coming midterms.
The real election to fill the seat for two years is in November and the same candidates are running, meaning Palin will get another shot.
Also, Alaska used the controversial new ranked-choice voting for the first time in the special election and many voters were confused.
40% of candidates chose the Democrat candidate as their first choice but 60% chose one of two GOP candidates as their first choice (31% selected Palin as their first choice and 29% Nick Begich).
Now that voters understand what happened with ranked choice voting, it is hard to see the Democrat candidate prevailing in November.
According to Fox News:
Ranked-choice voting allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference on their ballots.
Should one candidate receive a majority of first-preference votes, that individual is declared the winner in the race.
However, if no candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, the candidate with the fewest first-preference votes is eliminated.
Following the elimination of the candidate who received the least amount of first-preference votes, voters’ second-preference choices are evaluated and a new tally is established to determine whether a candidate in the race has received a majority of the vote.
That process is repeated until a candidate wins a majority of the vote.
Results from the election revealed that 40% of candidates chose Peltola as their first choice, 31% selected Palin as their first choice and 29% chose Begich as their first choice.
Following ranked choice guidelines, Begich was eliminated and his votes were dispersed to Peltola and Palin.
Peltola received 15,445 second choice votes from Begich and Palin received 27,042 second choice votes from Begich, bringing Peltola’s total to 91,206, compared to Palin’s 85,987.
Peltola will become the first Alaska native to serve in Congress and the first woman to hold the house seat from the state.
According to Axios:
In a statement, Palin took a shot at ranked-choice voting — which she had railed against throughout the campaign — arguing it has “effectively disenfranchised 60% of Alaska voters.”
“Though we’re disappointed in this outcome, Alaskans know I’m the last one who’ll ever retreat. Instead, I’m going to reload,” she said.
What’s next: The special election was only to determine who fills the rest of Young’s term, which ends on Jan. 3.
Peltola, Palin, Begich and fishing guide Chris Bye, a libertarian, will face off in another ranked-choice election in November after advancing in a primary last week.