Open primaries: What do Alaska’s split-ticket voters have in common? Murkowski, Peltola, and Democrats

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An analysis by the liberal Sightline Institute shows that Alaskans who split their votes between Democrats and Republicans were most-often voters who chose Sen. Lisa Murkowski for Senate and Mary Peltola for House in 2022.

Under the newly adopted rules of open primaries and ranked-choice general elections, the Alaska Republican Party was stripped of its right to hold its own primary and determine its own candidate for the general election. Voters no longer pick a Republican or “Democrat+” ballot in the primary. All candidates are on the same ballot.

This new condition gives insight into the Murkowski voters in 2022, as Murkowski appeared on all of the top five most popular split-ticket combinations.

Murkowski’s voters who split their votes between parties also tended to pick Democrat Les Gara for governor.

A second combination was Murkowski for Senate, Peltola for House, and Democrat-collaborator liberal Bill Walker for governor. In both of these combinations, the voter also picked a Democrat for a state House and a state Senate seat.

Further down the list, a smaller number of voters picked Murkowski, Peltola, Gara, a Democrat for state Senate, and an independent for state House. About 1 percent made that combination.

The analysis proves what conservatives said would happen with open primaries — Democrats would cross over and keep Murkowski in power.

There were 19 candidates to choose from on the open-primary ballot fo Senate, eight of which were Republicans and four of which were Democrat. The Democrats received a total of 16,867 of the 192,542 votes cast:

The results from the 2022 Senate primary in Alaska.

Murkowski, Peltola are the common denominators. The Democrats ran a weak Democrat, Pat Chesbro to occupy the chair. Her assignment was to do nothing but go through the motions and look like she was running.

In 12% of all ballots in 2022’s primary, Murkowski and Peltola were voted on together, and either Gara or Walker were the pick for governor.

Murkowski owes her success to Democrats, something Republicans have pointed out since the open primary was brought into action by 2020’s Ballot Measure 2, an initiative of Outside dark money. Under the old system, there were two ballots — a Republican and an “everyone else” ballot for the primary. Murkowski wouldn’t have been saved, as she would have lost to Kelly Tshibaka in the primary. If Democrats had not crossed over, she would have been retired.

The Murkowski/Peltola combination showed up in 25,567 ballots in the primary in 2022.

Also that year, just 82 voters chose conservative Kelly Tshibaka for Senate along with Democrats Mary Peltola and Les Gara for House and governor. The Republican voters who crossed over were few and far between.

Murkowski, if she owes anyone besides her proponents of ranked-choice voting, owes Peltola; their fortunes are tied together. Murkowski also endorsed Peltola in 2022, and that endorsement still, apparently, stands, as she has stayed silent in the 2024 race, where there are two Republicans in the mix for Congress: Nancy Dahlstrom and Nick Begich. On the other hand, it’s likely that neither Begich nor Dahlstrom would court an endorsement from Murkowski.

50 COMMENTS

  1. Murkowski is somehow incredibly naive about the politics of today. She’s a dying breed who buys us nothing by giving up on Republican principles. She sold out in the end for nothing.

  2. Absolutely rigged… I am so very ashamed of both & every time I see the evil duo together I keep expecting Batman & robin to pull on up, yes & in the oath integrity mobile to haul both off & the judges who ranked choice voted these Dems into power. Bronson Bronson Bronson, shameless oath breakers of for& by the cameras. PEOPLE POWER TO THE RESCUE INTEGRITY MAGA. Full dividend checks are flat out awesome integrity oath takers matters first & foremost to GOD. Murkowski the book of life has your deeds resign repent & good riddance. Enough fake ALL.

  3. This article’s photo would have been absolutely perfect if each of the two Democrats were wearing a T-shirt with the line “I’m with Stupid”.

  4. You can’t be surprised. Glad the PM radio host got paid to make this happen.

    But don’t lay all the blame there. The amount of people who called his show asking who was running and who to vote for was ridiculous.

    I still can’t understand how the useless AK GOP didn’t challenge a radio host being paid to pimp a concept so counterproductive to GOP interests.

    Did he have the right to pimp it? Sure. Did he have the right to host a show? Sure. But it was ethically wrong to allow him to pimp his own pet project which would effect an upcoming election.

  5. This whole thing played out exactly how many of us thought it would un RCV, Democrats would cross over and vote for Murkowski just to keep Tshibaka from winning that seat. Conservative and GOP voters fighting over Nick Begich and Sarah Palin costs us the seat in the house with Peltola winning it. Get rid of RCV and we’ll get back to being a true red state.

    • I agree that republicans fought over Begich and Palin and threw the Senate race to Peltola. But I disagree that ridding us of RCV will return the state to red. My political engagement has shown me that blocks of voters are controlling outcomes here, like District 4 of Anchorage, for example. And gerrymandering has secured that circumstance for the foreseeable future. Alaskans don’t know how to combat that, and lack the organizational skills or leadership to try. And the Alaska Barr Association is also controlling outcomes here by appointing all the judges. Alaskans truly don’t know how our own judicial system works, nor do they take a collective interest in it enough to generate any interest in changing it. The saddest part is that the rural areas are also arch democrat supporting areas (Matsu Valley excluded) because all of them are used to living on the dole. The party that meets that hunger for ever-more free money will always have the rural communities’ vote: they live on subsidized fuel, grant-funded capital projects, education funding (detached from performance) and corporation dividends. I don’t think republicans, libertarians, or independents can promote their “strong values” well enough to encourage entire towns to vote against their own pocket books. Abortion on demand is a fringe benefit, compared to the tsunami of state and federal funds for pet projects in remote places. Thus, you won’t see communities like Cordova, Unalaska, Bethel, etc, choose hard work, family values, and independence over the cash cow. Those communities LOVE Lisa, too, because she brings home the bacon. Frankly, Lisa also sticks up for the military and national guard so thoroughly that she locks their votes too. That means Fairbanks, Delta Junction, and Anchorage all harvest the rewards of her efforts with them. In order to be truly competitive, we need to find a candidate who can suckle the fatted calf as efficiently as Lisa does, while still defending traditional values like pro-Life, pro-family, good education (not the craaaap we have now), medical freedom, and the free market economy. Sadly, we don’t organize ourselves well enough to accomplish that. We fight each other. Democrats don’t. They play the long game, and they all know which direction the train is heading. If you’re a democrat and you don’t cooperate, you get the shunned. Unless we take that lesson, learn our enemy’s tactics, and use those tactics against them, I think we’re going to be in the minority for the long term. By the way, the same toxic, divisive vitriol amongst republicans goes against Dunleavy on a daily basis right here in the comment section on MRAK. Granted, he is not perfect. I guess if we don’t have a perfect candidate, we should just throw the next election to Les Gara, too, right?

      My two cents.

      • DC,
        Your observations and arguments are as old as the hills. Republicans have been fighting each other for six decades and more. RCV eliminates a Republican Primary. And RCV allows the Democrats to choose the weakest Republican candidate. THAT’s how Lisa Murkowski stays elected.

    • I told everyone I could that it was just like California when they went open primary.. Locking in Democrat contol!!!

    • And get back to a Strong Party Platform, instead of people who don’t understand the strength of a closed primary for members voices. Registration should be closed before the primary to maintain Party Strengths. Put forth your best and let the public decide in the General.

  6. Certainly(!), we can do better than either of these two to represent AK907. However, the facts are, that we just don’t have the political // moral courage and willpower, we will continue to get ‘gamed’ and ‘hood-winked’ as well as continue to watch our great State decline.

  7. Political game Democrats uses would be encourage as many names on the candidate lists when there is strong unity
    Going Forward Republicans, Conservatives, Moderates, and Christians got to be unified if they don’t want to get stuck with the good ol boys or corrupt bastards groups candidate
    Democrats tried to take away Dunleavy’s votes by their two candidates. That time their division tactic didn’t work because of the majority stayed united under Dunleavy no matter what.
    How Tsibaka was campaigning taking the complaining tactic it didn’t help her any more did it help Dunbar when he was challenging Young. That’s not the way to campaign against a Senior even if they are corrupt. Neither how Mark Begich campaigned during his challenge to Stevens, afterwards he got the vote but no one respected him so he was easily taken down. Murkowski is respected so any Republican challenger going forward they have to respect her, Don’t complain, and be smart.

    • Since when has Princess been respected?? Clearly her allies don’t . as they do the opposite of what she publicly advocates

  8. Keeping Murkowski in power is financially beneficial to Alaska and keeps the MRAK troll pearls clutched

    • No, after making a career of “fighting” for anwr development. She voted to confirm the first person who could essentially veto that project.

  9. We get the officials we deserve. When we stay out of Politics and allow those on the Marxist left to pick we get what we deserve. I remember when many of us warned that Rank choice voting and Mail in were the lefts way to get power. and many still think it was about “Dark Money” like you know those that Fund Murkowski and the other leftist. How is that working out for you? If you are not a Democrat not that well Eh?

  10. but didn’t the voters choose this? up to the voters to realize mistakes and correct, via voting. other systems choose other methods, outside of voting. seems primary school civics lesson, ie, what I learned in 60’s.

    fall off in voter participation allows swings and distorted outcomes, increasing voter participation, removal of dark money influences and better voter intelligence minus overt outside media manipulation would be refreshing

  11. That conclusion actually took an “analysis” to reach??? Next analysis: “Do conservatives like Trump?”

  12. I voted for Bill Walker in 2014 and again in 2022. He was Scott Kendall’s choice for governor and I owe my continuing free ride in the US Senate to Scott Kendall and RCV. Of course, I will never forget the generosity and kindness of Byron Mallott who helped me get Bush votes and taught his people to spell “Murcowscee.”
    I will never forget Byron’s extraordinary work with young girls, teaching them to stand up to perversion and sexual abuse.

      • I agree, Ginny. I want to know why my own daughter screwed her parents over. I kept telling Nancy that this was not going to go well for us later in life. We can’t even face our dearest friends anymore.

  13. I don’t remember the exact year , maybe 1996, when the AK Republican party won the right to have a closed (party member only) primary. It was very clear that many Democrat voters were affecting the Republican primary outcomes and that helped to eliminate much of the counter-insurgent voting.
    But the next problem AK Republicans have long endured is betrayal from within.
    Just look at Juneau today, full of Lisa M’s.

  14. What a disgusting duo of George Soros/Sammy”the bankman” Freid bought and paid for Slammin Salmon Sisters. What does Mitch McConnell stand to gain from his funding of Murky and her grifter sister?
    Something mighty fishy going on in swampland.

    Please somebody pull the plug and drain the swamp of the creatures Alaskans sent to DC in exchange for resource development.

      • They may not be matching, but they are made by the same seamstress here in Alaska. If you see others wearing that design, you’ll know who is buddies with these two democrats.

  15. Basically, the voters now choose who runs for office, not back room party picks by a select few!
    The over 50% of independent Alaskans now have a voice. What is the problem?

    • The voters have always had control over who runs for office.

      The 50% independent (if true) keep backing fringe candidates which don’t get traction.

      You’ve been played and don’t get it.

  16. Maybe the problem is that the majority of Alaskans are independents. Maybe that’s not actually a problem except to the far right MAGA. The Republican Party platform has swung so rigid on some issues that some of us will not vote straight party lines. Just saying you are a R or L party doesn’t entitle you to a vote from me. Abortion hard liners etc are destroying the Republicans. Anyone who tries to find the middle or compromise is branded as not a patriot. It’s really just nuts now. RCV is great. Now the choice is the peoples vs back room bargains that crown the “best” and make that person the party face. Anyone remember Joe Miller aka the beginning of the end. If that election didn’t show that independent voters want a sensible agenda I don’t know what would. All this complaining but so little discussion of the party platforms rigid thinking driving away votes. It’s kind of funny how myopic the comments are. Blame the system, votes are stolen, people aren’t patriots, elections are rigged … blame blame blame etc…. But so little self-reflection on why (some of) the candidates/parties hard line policies are so hard to vote for.

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