By SUZANNE DOWNING
Sarah Palin, former governor of Alaska, spun the election this week in a long diatribe, a series of social media posts, and a video. All of it says that she won the congressional race and is going to Washington to meet with the Freedom Caucus. She was on a plane today, heading out of state on her way to D.C.
On social media, she said the election has been “#rigged.” She began setting up the narrative that Dominion voting machines stole the election from her and somehow it was Nick Begich’s fault.
She circled for readers how she has 4 million followers on Instagram and Nick has 14,000. She did not compare herself to the apparent winner, Mary Peltola, who has 13,500 Instagram followers. Instead, she compared herself to the third-place finisher. In her mind, Instagram followers equal voters.
Some 73% of Alaska voters did not pick Palin, the most famous Alaskan in history, in the first round of voting. The vast majority of voters did not vote for her in the primary, nor in the special general election back in August.
Instead, of the 214,659 counted so far in the Nov. 8 general election, 101,441 Alaskans chose a Democrat. Mary Peltola has over 47.5% of the vote.
Another 24% of voters chose a different Republican than Palin. They picked Nick. And less than 2% chose a Libertarian, Chris Bye.
Palin is evidently counting on Peltola, the victorious Democrat, to bring Palin second-round votes. She courted those votes throughout the past four months by cozying up to Peltola and telling people that everything was just wonderful about her dear friend Peltola, except that she was with the wrong party.
Here is the problem for Palin’s theory: As the leader in votes, Peltola voters’ second-round votes will never be counted.
Palin doesn’t seem to understand ranked choice voting. The only second-round votes that will get counted are from Bye, who has 3,716 first choice votes (1.73%), and Nick Begich III, who has 51,927 votes, (24.19%). If every single second vote went Palin, she could win. That never happens.
So what else is Palin really doing with this unlikely argument that she is the victor?
She’s launching her victim narrative for the national stage. The audience in this bizarre quest to become the face of the vote victim is not local Alaskans. It’s her audience at the NewsMax platform, where she is appearing more frequently as a talking news analyst.
She will tell the world, without proof, that the election was stolen from her.
In her social media rant, she blamed Dominion voting machines, the Republican Party (although on Sunday she had spoken on the stage at the party’s rally), Lisa Murkowski, Nick Begich, and politicos. She blamed everyone but the impressive candidate and campaign of Mary Peltola and herself.
Palin also said she is hiring Jerry Ward as her chief of staff, and she gave out his email address for everyone to direct their questions to him, because she was expecting to be very busy with the Freedom Caucus this week.
This seems unhinged, but she will never accept a loss. That would be bad for her brand. The claim of victory sets the table for the media feast that she’ll preside over, along with other Trump-backed candidates who lost.
Even Kelly Tshibaka, who still holds the lead over Sen. Lisa Murkowski, has not declared victory. With her 44% result to Murkowski’s 42%, the math is just too difficult for Tshibaka. It will take a miracle.
Sen. Murkowski has also not declared victory, in spite of the fact that the Democrat votes from Pat Chesbro will come over in Round 3 and pull her to the 50+1% she needs to win.
And Rep. Mary Peltola, clearly in the catbird’s seat in this election with all the Outside money and the ranked choice voting advantage, is also not claiming victory.
Only Sarah Palin is claiming victory.
“We anticipate victory, despite not having election results tonight due to our assumed election integrity,” Palin said, throwing in a touch of sarcasm and giving a clue to what her next chapter will be. “The GOP establishment deserves losses until it’s willing to FIGHT for what is right.”
If the GOP establishment deserves losses, does that also apply to Palin?
The grassroots Republicans of the state may take offense to Palin’s slamming of them. They’ve worked hard.
In 2020, many Alaskans fought hard against the ranked choice voting Alaska was being sold by dark money from Outside. It won by a small margin, and many Alaskans will start fighting to undo this system that is patently unfair. We can at least appreciate that Palin sees the problem, but she has made it about her, which could make Ballot Measure 2, with its open primary and ranked choice voting, difficult to repeal. Palin cannot be the leader to repeal the ballot measure, because she is now just too unhinged.
Many Alaskans have also been fighting with all they have to keep the Republican governor from being recalled by the Democrats, and to get this conservative governor reelected.
Many Alaskans worked as volunteers for candidates day after day to keep the state from going off the rails. Alaskans showed up at precinct meetings and community councils. Palin was nowhere to be found in the state until Don Young died.
Palin also said she is going to go even more “blatantly rogue.” Whatever that means, we can hope she takes it elsewhere and goes rogue on some other population.
As a conservative, I am disappointed that Alaska has been added to the column for the Democrats. Today, every county and borough that touches the Pacific Ocean has gone Democrat in the U.S. House, now that Mary Peltola is the likely victor.
That’s not what Congressman Don Young would have wanted, no matter what the D.C. Mafia told Alaskans. He was proud to be one of the last two conservative congressional representatives on the Left Coast. He also wanted to stay in office to see Nancy Pelosi ushered out of the Speaker’s Chambers.
This congressional race has a bleak outcome for our state’s economy. It is discouraging to see how many soft conservatives and swing voters who voted for Peltola simply because she is nice and simply because they wanted to be a part of history.
Palin encouraged that vote for Mary Peltola every step of the way. As much as anyone, she owns this.
Suzanne Downing is publisher of Must Read Alaska.