The vast majority of the time, RedState readers and I agree. I’m going to go ahead and predict that this article will be an exception.
Last night, Sarah Palin lost her congressional bid in Alaska to a progressive Democrat. Does that mean Republicans are in trouble for November? No, it does not. In fact, the GOP expanded its vote share over 2020 in the district. You can safely ignore the hot takes about how this shows a blue wave is on the way. They come from people who either fundamentally don’t understand Alaska’s system or are purposely misleading others for partisan reasons.
Back to Palin, most of the blame on the right is being placed on Alaska’s ranked-choice voting system. A huge number of Republicans ended up either leaving their second-choice blank or they put the Democrat as their second choice. Ultimately, Palin did not have the topline votes to win.
And while it’s easy to cry-bag about the system, it is the system that exists. I’ve said the same thing about mail-in voting. Republicans can either learn to use it to their advantage, or they can keep losing races they should win.
That brings me to some faulty assumptions. Namely, the idea that Palin is entitled to all Republican second-choice votes and that she would have won without ranked-choice voting. If Republicans were willing to vote for a Democrat or not put a second choice in the RCV system, why would anyone assume those same voters would have shown up at the polls to vote for Palin in a regular system? No matter how much some on the right complain, that’s not how voting works. If Palin did not present herself in a way that was viable to those people, then she did not earn their vote, and if she is unable to constitute a majority out of the current GOP pool of voters in Alaska, she can’t win.
So why was there such division over Palin?
The answer is simple: She’s not a popular figure in Alaska. And before you scoff, ask yourself what is even appealing about Sarah Palin to you personally. She hasn’t been relevant in over a decade. Her personal life has been a mess, and she’s been more likely to be in New York than in her home state over the last several years. Her run for Congress felt more like an attempt to strongarm her way back into the public eye on the back of a Donald Trump endorsement than a genuine campaign.
Again, you may think those criticisms aren’t fair, and you may think Palin is great based on her public persona from 2010. I’m not saying you can’t feel that way, but it’s ultimately irrelevant when a huge number of voters in Alaska, the people who know her best, can’t stand her. They are the ones deciding who will represent them, and whining about the results of an election is not a strategy. Just because someone plays well at CPAC does not mean they can win in Alaska.
Here’s the lesson Republicans can learn or they can keep losing: Stop running deeply unpopular figures in volatile election environments.