March 24, 2022 – Sabato Crystal Ball

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Dear reader: This is the latest edition of Notes on State of Politics, which contains brief updates on elections and politics.

– Editors

The end of the era in Alaska

Towards the end of last Friday, some unfortunate political news spread: While he was on a return flight, House Dean, Republican Don Young (R, AK-AL) died. Earlier this month, Octogenarian turned 49 at the Young House – making him his longest-serving Republican and the 6th longest-serving member in the chamber’s history.

Although Young turned 89 this summer, he had a quick schedule and was an active legislator. He introduced himself shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine Law Aiming to seize the assets of Russian oligarchs. Even as Young developed the habit of criticizing environmentalists, at the time of his death, he was one of the more moderate Republicans at the conference: he voted in favor of President Biden’s infrastructure package and was a strong advocate of marijuana law.

While Last Frontier may see a chaotic election season this year, it seems certain that it will be difficult to replace the colorful young man who will eventually be elected.

Since Alaska last saw a special election almost 50 years ago, some history is in chronological order.

In 1972, when Young was a state legislator representing Fort Yukon, he was nominated by the GOP against the then representative. Nick Begich (D, AK-AL). However, just weeks before the 1972 general election, Begich boarded a famous ill-fated plane with the then House Majority Leader Hale Boggs (who was in the state on a campaign trail) – they went missing on October 16 and were pronounced dead in December. Although Richard Nixon was Alaska among the 49 states in his landslide re-election that year, Begich was re-elected. In the absence.

When Begich’s seat was declared vacant, Young was in a good position to score another run. He won the forthcoming March 1973 special election by only 3 percentage points. In that election, the candidates were chosen by the state parties: Republicans in the state unanimously nominated Young, Alaska Federation of Native President Emile Notty emerged from a rival Democratic convention.

This time the special election will be held in a completely different format. In 2020, Alaska voters briefly approved one Ballot measurement Which has shifted the state’s electoral system to a ranked choice format – although there is a twist. Under the new system, all candidates, regardless of party affiliation, will run in the primary ballot, where voters can choose only one candidate. The top 4 finishers will then proceed to a general election, where voters will determine their preferences.

The special preliminary election appears to have been set for June 11, according to state election officials. The special general election will coincide with the regular preliminary election on August 16 – the former will be ranked preferred and the latter will not. Finally, the regular general election (where voters will rank 4 candidates) will take place in November.

It’s important to note that Alaska is running for 2 of its only House seats this year, and given the uncertainty that comes with this new format, the winner of the special contest may not be a regular election.

There is a possibility of a landslide in both the elections. Even before Young’s death, he drew a notable inter-party opponent in Nick Begich III, who was his grandson who succeeded him. Although she appears to be less determined to run, former governor and 2008 GOP vice president-elect Sarah Palin Not canceled Looking for a seat. Anchorage Assemblyman Chris Constant is the only declared Democrat, although 2020 Senate candidate Al Gross looks likely to enter. Gross lost to Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) 2 years ago – although he campaigned as an independent, Gross ran for the Democratic nomination.

While the field may still grow in the coming weeks, we are starting to race as potential Republicans. Although Republicans in Alaska are generally strong favorites, as the saying goes, special elections are good, special – and before that even considering that special election will be the first statewide competition to be conducted under the new rules.

With one exception, and although there was a warm relationship between them, Young’s absence could work for Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who is seeking a 4th full term this year: after nearly 20 years in office, she is now the most senior member of the delegation. Veteran member – potentially an important selling point, due to Alaska’s relationship with the federal government.

Republicans rule the state

It is a common complaint among Democrats that, in recent years, Republicans have done better by running for state legislature and winning. That, of course, can be seen in the recent results.

The States Project, a progressive group that supports Democratic state legislature candidates, recently released a survey from Progressive Pollster Data for Progress, which shows that Democrats believe more than Republicans that Congress, rather than the state legislature, is the key to making important decisions. , The divisive issue, in the recent part of Reed Wilson’s poll Mountains. This shift in focus between partisans could say something about the relative success of Republicans in running for state legislature since 2010, when Republicans took a big advantage in controlling state legislatures that they held.

The 2020 election provided a reminder of Republican state legislature’s dominance, as Republicans held all of their state legislature chambers and, surprisingly, New Hampshire’s State House and Senate were 2 Democrat-held. It came despite losing control of both the presidency and the Senate. Last November, Republicans overthrew the Virginia House of Delegates, giving them control of another state chamber that voted for Joe Biden in 2020.

How influential are Republicans? Let’s compare 2 maps. Map 1 shows the results of the 2020 Electoral College.

Map 1: 2020 presidential election

Biden won 25 states plus the District of Columbia, while Donald Trump won 25 states.

Map 2 shows the current party control of the state legislatures

Map 2: Current party control of the state legislature

Now, look at Map 1 and then Map 2. Notice something? Democrats do not control a single chamber in a state where Donald Trump has won with the controversial exception of Alaska State House, where Republicans are the majority member, but Democrats, independents and Republicans elect a coalition chamber speaker. Meanwhile, Republicans have won both biden-chambers in 6 biden-winning states (Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) and 2 single, a single chamber in Minnesota and Virginia for a total of 14 biden-states. Overall, Republicans have 61 chambers – 62 if Nebraska includes a technically non-partisan but practically Republican unicameral state legislature – where Democrats have 36, Alaska House does not count on both sides.

In addition to holding many Biden-state legislature chambers, Republicans have also done better by winning recent hostile districts. CNalysis tracked the state assembly elections and counted the numbers Biden-District Republican And Trump-district Democrat Among the more than 7,000 elected state legislators across the country. According to Chaz Nuttycombe of CNalysis, the number of biden-district Republicans (about 400) is more than double that of Trump-district Democrats (about 170). Given a strong Republican electoral environment, this inequality is expected to increase in 2022, and Republicans could cut deeper into the Biden-State legislature chamber.

Reasonable people can argue about the main factors on the Republican side in controlling state legislation – political reorganization, germination, greater Republican focus on nations, or other factors – but the truth remains.

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