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Politics of Alaska

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Political party strength in Alaska has varied over the years. The communities of Juneau, Sitka, downtown and midtown Anchorage, the areas surrounding the College/University of Alaska Fairbanks campus and Ester and the "Alaska Bush" – rural, sparsely populated Alaska – stand out as Democratic strongholds, while the Kenai Peninsula, Matanuska-Susitna Valley, parts of Anchorage, and Fairbanks (including North Pole and Eielson Air Force Base), Ketchikan, Wrangell, and Petersburg serve as the Republican Party electoral base. As of 2021, over half of all registered voters have chosen "Non-Partisan" or "Undeclared" as their affiliation,[1] despite recent attempts to close primaries.

History

Alaska regularly supports Republicans in presidential elections and has done so since statehood. Republicans have won the state's electoral college votes in all but one election that it has participated in (1964). No state has voted for a Democratic presidential candidate fewer times. Alaska was carried by Democratic nominee Lyndon B. Johnson during his landslide election in 1964, while the 1960 and 1968 elections were close. Since 1972, however, Republicans have carried the state by large margins. In 2008, Republican John McCain defeated Democrat Barack Obama in Alaska, 59.49% to 37.83%. McCain's running mate was Sarah Palin, the state's governor and the first Alaskan on a major party ticket. Obama lost Alaska again in 2012, but he captured 40% of the state's vote in that election, making him the first Democrat to do so since 1968.

The Alaska Bush, central Juneau, midtown and downtown Anchorage, and the areas surrounding the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus and Ester have been strongholds of the Democratic Party. The Matanuska-Susitna Borough, the majority of Fairbanks (including North Pole and the military base), and South Anchorage typically have the strongest Republican showing. As of 2021, over half of all registered voters have chosen "Non-Partisan" or "Undeclared" as their affiliation,[2] despite recent attempts to close primaries to unaffiliated voters.

Although Alaska entered the union as a Democratic state, since the early 1960s Alaska has been characterized as Republican-leaning.[3] Local political communities have often worked on issues related to land use development, fishing, tourism, and individual rights. Alaska Natives, while organized in and around their communities, have been active within the Native corporations. These have been given ownership over large tracts of land, which require stewardship.

When the United States Congress, in 1957 and 1958, debated the wisdom of admitting it as the 49th state, much of the political debate centered on whether Alaska would become a Democratic or Republican-leaning state. Conventional wisdom had it that, with its penchant for new ideas and dependence on the Federal Government largess for basic needs, it would become a Democratic stronghold, about which Republicans, and the Republican Administration of Dwight Eisenhower had reservations. Given time, those fears proved unfounded. With the discovery of petroleum in Alaska, the liberal political majority in Alaska quickly came to an end.

Six Republicans, four Democrats, one Secessionist and one Independent have served as governor of Alaska. Republican Governor Wally Hickel was elected to the office for a second term in 1990 after leaving the Republican party and briefly joining the Alaskan Independence Party ticket just long enough to be reelected. He subsequently officially rejoined the Republican party in 1994.

Unique features

Alaska was formerly the only state in which possession of thirty ounces or less of marijuana in one's home was completely legal under state law, though the federal law remains in force.[4] Alaska's appeals court ruled in 2003 that Alaska's constitutional guarantee of privacy took precedence over any attempts at marijuana prohibition, overruling a 1990 voter initiative that criminalized possession of all amounts of the drug. The court ruled that voters, who approved the criminalization measure, did not have authority to change the state constitution protecting one's privacy.[5]

Alaska is also unusual in that it does not have counties. Instead, it is divided into boroughs in some of the more populated areas, but nearly half the state is in the Unorganized Borough and has no local government or services other than town or village councils. The Unorganized Borough, however, does include some major population centers such as Nome and Bethel.

The state has an independence movement favoring a vote on secession from the United States, with its only currently organized expression being the Alaskan Independence Party.[6] As noted above, its gubernatorial candidate in 1990 was elected before eventually joining the Republican Party towards the end of his term. Alaskan Nationalism maintains a significant influence across the political spectrum, but neither of the two major federal parties in Alaska have endorsed it, and it is rarely a relevant electoral issue.

State

The Alaska Legislature consists of a 20-member Senate serving 4-year terms and 40-member House of Representatives serving 2-year terms. Since 1994, it has been dominated by conservatives, generally Republicans (although currently there is a bipartisan working group in the Senate). Likewise, recent state governors have been mostly conservatives, although not always elected under the Republican Party banner. Republican Wally Hickel was elected to the office for a second term in 1990 after leaving the Republican Party and briefly joining the Alaskan Independence Party ticket just long enough to be reelected. He subsequently officially rejoined the Republican fold in 1994.

Recent and ongoing U.S. Justice Department probes continue into Alaskan politics. Stevens, who had served since 1968, was caught up in a larger probe that included Federal Bureau of Investigation raids in summer 2007 at the offices of six Alaska legislators, including Stevens' son, Ben, who was then the president of the state Senate, and a raid on Senator Ted Stevens' personal home.[7] Stevens drew the FBI and Justice Department attention over his home renovation project done in 2000, which more than doubled the size of his home. Bill Allen, founder of VECO Corporation, an oil supplying and engineering company, oversaw the work at Senator Steven's home. Bill Allen has since pleaded guilty to bribing Alaska state legislators. Alaska lawmakers went as far as embroidering ball caps with the letters CBC, for "Corrupt Bastards Club." The Washington Post describes more into the political scandals with its article entitled "I'll sell my soul to the Devil" from a tape quote from Pete Kott, former Republican speaker of the Alaskan legislature.[8] On October 27, 2008, Stevens was convicted on seven counts of making false statements. His conviction was reversed,[9] six months after he lost the election to the Democrat, because of misconduct by prosecutors.

Federal

Alaska's current members of the United States Congress are three Republicans, following the defeat of Democrat Mark Begich in 2014.

Because of its population relative to other U.S. states, Alaska has only one member in the U.S. House of Representatives. This seat is currently being held by Republican Don Young, who was re-elected to his 21st consecutive term in 2012. His seniority in House makes him one of the most influential Republican House members. His position on the House Transportation Committee allowed him to parlay some $450 million to the Gravina Island Bridge and the Knik Arm Bridge, both derided as "bridges to nowhere". Alaska's At-large congressional district is currently the world's second-largest legislative constituency by area, behind only the Canadian territory of Nunavut.

Alaska's United States Senators belong to Class 2 and Class 3.

Republican Frank Murkowski held the state's other senatorial position. After being elected governor in 2002, he resigned from the Senate and appointed his daughter, State Representative Lisa Murkowski as his successor. She won full six-year terms in 2004, 2010, and 2016. Notably, Lisa Murkowski was re-elected in 2010 in a long shot write-in campaign after being ousted in the primary by Tea Party-backed challenger Joe Miller and Democrat Scott McAdams. The campaign made national headlines, and Murkowski became the first Senator to be elected in a write-in campaign since Strom Thurmond of South Carolina in 1954. Since winning re-election, Murkowski's voting record has notably become more moderate.

In the 2014 election, Dan Sullivan, former Attorney General, defeated incumbent U.S. Senator Mark Begich.

President

A line graph showing the presidential vote by party from 1960 to 2016 in Alaska.
A line graph showing the presidential vote by party from 1960 to 2016 in Alaska.

Alaska regularly supports Republicans in presidential elections and has done so since statehood. Republicans have won the state’s electoral college votes in all but one election that it has participated in (1964). No state has voted for a Democratic presidential candidate fewer times. Alaska was carried by Democratic nominee Lyndon B. Johnson during his landslide election in 1964, while the 1960 and 1968 elections were close.

Since 1972, however, Republicans have carried the state by large margins. President George W. Bush won the state's electoral votes in 2004 by a margin of 25 percentage points with 61.1% of the vote. In 2008, Republican John McCain defeated Democrat Barack Obama in Alaska, 59.49% to 37.83%. McCain's running mate was Sarah Palin, the state's governor and the first Alaskan on a major party ticket. She became the first Republican woman to run on a national ticket as McCain’s running mate. Palin continued to be a prominent national figure even after resigning from the governor's job in July 2009. Obama lost Alaska again in 2012, but he did capture 40.8% of the state’s vote in that election, making him the first Democrat to garner 40% of the statewide vote since 1968. Out of the six states in the nation that cast a higher percentage of votes in favor of Obama in 2012, Alaska gave Obama his best performance, with a net gain of 7.5 percentage points. In 2016, Hillary Clinton received 36.6% of the vote, however in 2020, Joe Biden received 42.8%, the best performance for a Democratic candidate since 1964.

Presidential election results
Presidential election results[10]
Year Republican Democratic
1960 50.9% 30,953 49.1% 29,809
1964 34.1% 22,930 65.9% 44,329
1968 45.3% 37,600 42.7% 35,411
1972 58.1% 55,349 34.6% 32,967
1976 57.9% 71,555 35.7% 44,058
1980 54.4% 86,112 26.4% 41,842
1984 66.7% 138,377 29.9% 62,007
1988 59.6% 119,251 36.3% 72,584
1992 39.5% 102,000 30.3% 78,294
1996 50.8% 122,746 33.3% 80,380
2000 58.6% 167,398 27.7% 79,004
2004 61.1% 190,889 35.5% 111,025
2008 59.4% 193,841 37.8% 123,594
2012 54.8% 164,676 40.8% 122,640
2016 51.3% 163,387 36.6% 116,454
2020 53.1% 189,951 43% 153,778

Parties and registration

Recognized political parties

Party registration

Party registration as of February 3, 2021[11]
Party Total voters Percentage
Undeclared/Nonpartisan 339,491 56.61%
Republican 148,459 24.76%
Democratic 81,355 13.56%
Alaskan Independence 19,186 3.20%
Other political groups 11,206 1.87%
Total 599,687 100%

See also

Notes

References

  1. ^ "State of Alaska". Gov.state.ak.us. Archived from the original on February 25, 2008. Retrieved June 2, 2010.
  2. ^ "State of Alaska". Gov.state.ak.us. Archived from the original on February 25, 2008. Retrieved June 2, 2010.
  3. ^ "National Journal Alaska State Profile". Election.nationaljournal.com. Archived from the original on January 26, 2010. Retrieved June 2, 2010.
  4. ^ Volz, Matt (July 11, 2006). "Judge rules against Alaska marijuana law". The Seattle Times. Frank A. Blethen. Archived from the original on June 17, 2008. Retrieved May 22, 2008.
  5. ^ Noy v. Alaska, 83 P.3d 538, 543 (2003).
  6. ^ "Questions And Answers – About Alaskan Independence". Alaskan Independence Party. 2006. Archived from the original on 2012-01-04. Retrieved 2013-06-08.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-08-17. Retrieved 2007-07-31.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) | Federal agents raid Sen. Ted Stevens' Girdwood home
  8. ^ Vick, Karl. "I'll Sell My Soul to the Devil". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 4, 2010.
  9. ^ Washington Post, 8 April 2009, "Judge Orders Probe of Attorneys in Stevens Case"
  10. ^ Leip, David. "General Election Results – Alaska". United States Election Atlas. Retrieved November 18, 2016.
  11. ^ https://www.elections.alaska.gov/doc/info/statsPPA.php

External links

This page was last edited on 19 February 2021, at 18:42
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