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.
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.