After Alaska voters’ second and third choices were counted in the state's ranked-choice election process, Rep. Mary Peltola (D) is set to serve a whole term in Congress after she defeated Republican candidate Sarah Palin.
Peltola scored 136,893 votes with a 54.9-percent share, compared with Palin's 45.1 percent with 112,255 votes.
The Alaska Division of Elections tabulated voters’ second and third choices on Wednesday, confirming Peltola’s victory.
The candidates of all political parties were on the ballot during the August primary. The top four candidates, regardless of party, advanced to the general election, and voters were given the chance to choose their preferred candidates along with their second and third choices. If none of the candidates from this initial phase of voting garnered more than 50 percent of the votes, then the last-place candidate's second choices were distributed among the three remaining candidates in order to determine who passed the majority threshold. If that failed to yield a majority-vote-getter, the third round was conducted, in which the second-choice votes of the third-place candidate were distributed to the two remaining candidates.
The outcome might have been different if Palin hadn't been competing for Republican votes alongside fellow GOP candidate Nick Begich.
“As Republicans turned on one another, it allowed [Peltola] to stay above the fray and to talk about issues and, again, to define herself as she wanted,” political consultant Matt Shuckerow explained.
Palin is known to be a staunch opponent of the system of ranked-choice voting. “I do not believe in this system. It should not be embraced by enthusiastic participation when we know it’s not right,” she said.
Peltola was elected to Congress in September, after defeating Palin at Begich in the special election to fill deceased Rep. Don Young's (R) place as Alaska's only representative in Congress. She ran on a “pro-fish, pro-family, pro-freedom” platform that emphasized civility, not criticizing her two Republican opponents. Peltola will join the House Democrats’ minority; however, her victory will bring the Democrats’ total number of seats up to 213.
The Alaska Division of Elections plans to confirm the results of the election next week, on November 29.