What on Earth Happened in Alaska?

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Is something fishy going on in Alaska?

In the state’s single House seat, embattled and federally investigated Republican incumbent Don Young was slated to lose 50.4-44.0 (by an average of the polls). Instead, he won 52-44, an Election Day swing of more than 14 points.

In the state’s Senate seat, embattled and federally convicted Republican incumbent Ted Stevens was predicted to lose his seat 47.9-43.5 (again, by an average of the polls). Leading Republicans, including the GOP presidential candidate and the Senate Minority Leader, said Stevens should resign. Harry Reid warned that he may be expelled from the Senate if he were to win. Yet, Stevens appears to be leading 48-47 as vote counting concludes. That’s a election day swing of 5.5 points, in the face of all expectations.

And then consider this, from the Washington Post:

The final voter turnout numbers won’t be available until absentee ballots are counted, which could take at least another week. But this year’s total is not expected to eclipse Alaska’s 66 percent turnout in 2004 or its 60 percent clip in 2000. (This is especially odd given that Alaska’s Board of Elections saw a 12.4 percent hike in turnout for the August primaries, before Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was selected as the Republican Party’s vice presidential nominee.)

Alaska returns (without the uncounted absentee and contested ballots) show the McCain-Palin ticket garnering 136,348 votes. In 2004, President Bush got 190,889 votes, a “significant disparity”, the Anchorage Press reported. “These numbers only add to the oddity of this election in Alaska; in the run-up to Tuesday, Alaskan voters seemed energized to vote for a ticket with our governor on it, despite
the barrage of criticism Palin faced.”

Voter turnout was below 2000 and 2004 general election levels and below the 2008 primary level, despite the fact that the state’s popular governor was on the ticket. Huh?

I have no grand unified theory of vote manipulation in Alaska. I don’t suspect a conspiracy. But I do, like the WaPo, have questions. I hope someone in Alaska will come forward to answer them.

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This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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