How did Peltola beat Palin? Political analysts in Alaska say ‘civility matters’

Mary Peltola won the US House special election on Wednesday, August 31, 2022. (Liz Ruskin/Alaska Public Media)

On Wednesday, Mary Peltola flipped a historically Republican seat for the US House. She will also be the first Alaskan Native person to serve in Congress. And she won with the smallest fundraising budget of the bottom three candidates in the race.

Her win over Trump-backed Republican Sarah Palin sets the stage for a contentious few months as she, Palin and Republican Nick Begich face off for the full two-year term that begins in January.

Political consultant Jim Lottsfeldt said Thursday there were a number of reasons Peltola won, but one of the main ones was the enthusiasm felt by supporters for a progressive candidate focused on local issues, such as the sustainable fisheries management and the protection of the right to abortion.

“The enthusiasm of people, from moderates to liberals, for Mary Peltola was palpable,” he said. “[Not just] her ethnicity, but she’s nice, she has a great track record, she has these great political skills in retail.

Lottsfeldt is currently working for the Alaskans super PACs for Lisa, supporting Lisa Murkowski’s bid for re-election to the Senate.

The election was also an indictment of Republican Sarah Palin, he said. Palin’s political capital in Alaska has declined over the past decade since she stepped down as governor and then began to focus on her national stardom.

“Sarah Palin has really messed up her welcome with the Alaskans. And there’s only a super majority of Alaskans who are done with it,” Lottsfeldt said, adding that he was unimpressed with his campaign this summer.

“She avoided the press. She did very little public things. And when asked a question in public, his answers were simplistic and “sloganic”. “, did he declare.

Sarah Palin at her Anchorage campaign headquarters on Wednesday, August 31, 2022. (Valerie Kern/Alaska Public Media)

Then there’s the question of how Republican Nick Begich, who finished third, influenced the outcome of the race. In the ranked pick election, Begich was eliminated first. Just over half of her voters ranked Palin as their second choice. Almost a third chose Peltola second. And the remaining 21% either left their second choice blank or chose a candidate written second and ranked no third candidate.

Lottsfeldt said he was surprised at the number of Begich-Peltola voters, but reiterated that distaste for Palin may have played a role. For these voters, a moderate Democrat like Peltola, who supports

from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Coastal Plain for drilling, might have seemed like a better second choice.

Attorney Scott Kendall, who also currently works for Alaskans for Lisa, said given the murderous campaigns Palin and Begich have waged this cycle, it makes sense that Begich voters chose not to stand down for Palin in greater numbers.

He said it likely cost Palin a win.

“I come back to the very, very negative campaign, ran Nick Begich. It’s very hard to spend three months demonizing a person and then expecting your followers en masse to support that person. I think if there’s one factor, it’s Nick Begich’s campaign tactics,” Kendall said.

Nick Begich is campaigning in Anchorage. (Alaska Public Media)

If the two Republican candidates hope to turn things around for November, Kendall says they’ll need to ease the animosity that’s keeping their supporters from finishing second.

Already, it seems unlikely that this will happen.

Speaking to reporters after the results were released on Wednesday, Palin said she was waiting to see if Begich was “man enough” to drop out of the race to secure a Republican victory. Begich, meanwhile, tried to drum up support in a statement late Wednesday, saying Palin couldn’t win “because her unfavorable rating is so high.”

It seems unlikely that either Republican candidate will drop out of the race, and it remains to be seen how party support will swing. The issue now, says Lottsfeldt, is money.

“Can Begich raise money? Or will he just have to spend everything he has? Palin has the ability to raise a lot of money, but people kind of thought it was her race to lose — and she lost it. So is there less enthusiasm there? Lottsfeldt asked.

Kendall said that even if Begich defeats Palin and comes second in the general election, he’s unlikely to win a ranked runoff against Peltola.

“There is no doubt in my mind that if he exceeds [Palin] employing the same tactic he’s used so far there will be a huge bleed, maybe even more bleed than we just saw of votes for Palin that don’t rank [a second-choice candidate] or go to Peltola,” Kendall said. “Because civility matters.”

Meanwhile, Peltola’s path to a victory in November is by no means assured, but Lottsfeldt said campaigning as a starter was a huge boost, both in terms of name recognition and Fund raising.

Peltola reportedly received congratulatory phone calls from President Joe Biden and Senator Murkowski after his victory. His name appeared on national news sites on Thursday morning.

“He is a national figure. She just knocked down Donald Trump’s number one surrogate in the universe, Sarah Palin,” Lottsfeldt said. “So are they going to take advantage of it? And instead of running a campaign that was spending a few hundred thousand dollars, will they now be sitting on $20 million?

Peltola is expected to be sworn in later this month. General elections for the full term of the United States House will be held on November 8.

. How Peltola atil beat Palin analysts politics Alaska say civility account

. Peltola beat Palin Political analysts Alaska civility matters

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