There were some comments attributed to Suzanne Downing a week or two ago about how much better the Harris – Biden ticket did in Anchorage than Hillary did in 2016. The conclusion was that Republicans in the state are in deep, deep trouble, with the blue tsunami inbound and growing in size and destruction.
Sadly, I am unable to find the original article, so the attribution to Susanne is hearsay only. But being something of a data dink, it is always a good idea to look at the actual numbers. On 1/20, I gathered information from the State of Alaska Division of Elections website and broke down the presidential vote on a legislative district basis. Including overseas absentee ballots, this is 41 pieces. You can find the data for 2020 here and 2016 here. The spreadsheet can be found here.
To read the spreadsheet, anything in red in any of the five “delta” columns is an increase in democrat votes relative to Republican votes.
What is the bottom line? Statewide, Donald Trump got around 26,600 more votes in 2020 than he did in 2016 and increase of 14%. Pretty good for not running a statewide campaign. Trump increased his vote in every single legislative district.
In contrast, Biden increased his 2020 vote by 36,300 over Hillary Clinton’s 2016 vote total. He increased democrat votes in 40 out of 41 districts by 24%.
Comparing the two numbers and the statewide increase in Biden votes was around 11,000 more than the increase in Trump votes.
When you compare this increase district by district, there is a LOT of red, with Biden getting more of an increase in votes in 28 of 41 districts.
What to make of this? At first glance, this appears to spell doom for Republicans in future campaigns. But if you take a look at campaign spending for both the US Senate campaigns and third-party groups a different story emerges. There was nearly $50 million spent in the senate campaign by Oct 14. There was another $7 million for the state election rewrite in Prop 2. The Galvin campaign also spent $5 million in turning out democrats. Prop 1 cut both ways, as both sides spent a LOT of money.
The majority of those dollars on the democrat side and in support of Prop 2 were spent to turn out democrat voters, mostly by expanding the requests for absentee ballots and the return of absentee ballot, essentially get out the vote efforts. This was so successful that Alaska essentially had two elections, one that took place in the months before Election Day when mostly democrats voted, and the general election itself which mostly Republicans voted. The split on each election was around 60 – 40%, democrats and Republicans respectively.
Looking at the results by legislative district, Biden carried 20 districts in 2020 compared with Hillary’s 14 districts in 2016. Western Alaska ended up being slightly more Republican in 2020. Southeast and Anchorage ended up being more democrat in 2020. Central Alaska around Fairbanks ended up being slightly more Republican in 2020, as did some of the MatSu, and the Kenai.
Bottom line in all this? When you dump a LOT of money into the state to turn out the vote, the vote will turn out. Whether this can be extended to upcoming elections in 2021 (Anchorage Mayor and School Board) or the 2022 midterms remains to be seen and may not be a repeatable exercise without a LOT of outside money.
Alex Gimarc lives in Anchorage since retiring from the military in 1997. His interests include science and technology, environment, energy, economics, military affairs, fishing and disabilities policies. His weekly column “Interesting Items” is a summary of news stories with substantive Alaska-themed topics. He was a small business owner and Information Technology professional.