Alan Gross says he is sure he will win the Senate against Dan Sullivan. In a video statement on Wednesday, posted on Twitter, the Democrats’ candidate reassured his supporters that with 40 percent of the vote yet to be counted, he’s confident those votes are for him.
But are they?
Various media reports give differing totals for the number of votes yet to be counted. Some put the estimate at 120,000, others are assuming 150,000.
There are already 192,918 ballots already counted, and they went 119,000 to Sullivan, 61,362 to Gross. That means Sullivan has over 61 percent of the vote, for early voting up until the Thursday before Election Day, combined with all of the votes cast on Election Day itself, Nov. 3.
In the 2016 General Election, 321,271 total votes were cast. This includes all votes — early, absentee, and day-of votes.
So far this year, 173,712 votes have already been counted. If 2020 turnout is anything like 2016 turnout, that means about 147,600 remain, or 46 percent of the expected turnout.
Gross would be right, if he used this presumption, that over 40 percent of the vote is yet to be counted.
Gross also knows that those 147,600 ballots were aggressively scavenged by his field team from the Lower 48, flown up and housed in local hotels, from where they fanned across the state with smart tablets, knocking on doors and harvesting ballots from voters who are modeled as liberals.
To get across the finish line, Gross needs 57,638, presuming that Sullivan has all the votes he is ever going to get, and that Sullivan won’t get a single vote more in the the 147,600 outstanding ballots.
But that’s not how it will work, of course.
Let’s presume the 147,600 ballots split 50-50. In that scenario, Sullivan gets 193,400 votes, and Gross gets 135,162 votes, still far short of a win for Gross.
Now let’s presume that the 147,600 ballots break two-thirds for Gross. Now, Sullivan would have 168,200 votes, and Gross would have 159,762. Close, but no cigar. Gross still comes up about 8,438 votes short, or 6 percent shy of pulling even.
In order to win, Gross needs well over 70 percent of the remaining ballots, including all absentees and the votes of people who cast ballots from Friday through Monday before Election Day. It’s a big lift, but Gross thinks he has this in the bag.
Of the uncounted early and absentee votes, approximately 30,000 are from registered Republicans and 28,000 registered Democrats. If you assume that Democrats will vote for Gross, and Republicans for Sullivan, then Al Gross has to get 85 percent of undeclared and nonpartisans.
But what if there are only 120,000 remaining votes? The calculus is similar.
And what about the third person in the race, the Alaska Independence Party candidate? All indications are that John Wayne Howe is actually pulling votes from Gross, not Sullivan.
If by magic, Gross can go from his current 32% popularity to 70% of the vote, he can win this thing. Otherwise, he’s just spinning another tall tale for his Outside donors, while his workforce gets back on the plane headed south.