‘A Little Bit Weird’ Alaska Flirts With Purple-State Status

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Alaska has never been considered a battleground state on the national level. Since becoming a state in 1959, its three electoral votes have gone to a Democrat only once, in 1964. Alaska’s single U.S. House member, Rep. Don Young, has been in office for all but 15 years of Alaska’s entire history as a state. At least one of its Senate seats has been represented by a Republican, either the late Sen. Ted Stevens or someone with the last name Murkowski, since 1968. Its most notable figure ever on the national political stage was a certain “hockey mom” turned governor turned vice presidential candidate.

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But Democrats in Alaska and in the Beltway are sensing change, and are increasingly optimistic about their chances to compete here—especially in congressional races, where two Democratic-aligned independent candidates are attracting national dollars and talent in their attempts to unseat two GOP incumbents.

In 2018, Young, who is usually elected by wide margins, came within 6 points of defeat to independent Alyse Galvin, without much national investment in the race. Galvin is running again against Young in 2020, and a recent survey from pollster Data for Progress found the two candidates effectively tied. And Alaska’s first-term GOP senator, Dan Sullivan, has looked just a bit vulnerable to national Democrats as he faces reelection. He’s drawn a credible challenger, orthopedic surgeon Al Gross, and the nonpartisan Cook Political Report has moved the race into its competitive column, citing polling that shows the race roughly even. 

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