Tag Archives: Nick Begich III

Murkowski Re-Elected, Peltola Wins Full Term in Alaska; CA-13 is The Last Outstanding Race to be Called

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022

Senate

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R)

Alaska: Sen. Murkowski Re-Elected — Over the Thanksgiving break, we saw several more races called. The complete results came in Alaska where the final tabulations, including the Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) rounds, were released and contests decided.

As expected, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) was re-elected after nipping former State Administration Director Kelly Tshibaka (R), 43.4 – 42.6 percent in the aggregate vote, a margin of 1,914 votes. In the first RCV round, with fourth place finisher Buzz Kelley’s (R) votes being distributed, the race became even tighter, with Sen. Murkowski’s lead reduced to only 44.5 – 44.3 percent, a spread of just 339 votes. 

The final result was easily predictable, and one could argue Sen. Murkowski really won her re-election when people voted to change the state’s election system in 2020. Initiated with support from the senator’s political organization, the hybrid jungle primary/Ranked Choice Voting system allowed Sen. Murkowski to skip what was her most vulnerable election, a partisan Republican primary. With four people now automatically advancing into the general election, the partisan nomination phase within the traditional election cycle was in effect eliminated. In 2010, Sen. Murkowski lost the Republican primary, but was re-elected when she won a write-in Independent campaign in that year’s general election.

House

AK-AL: Rep. Peltola Wins Full Term — After winning the August special election through the Ranked Choice Voting system to replace the late Alaska Rep. Don Young (R), at-large Rep. Mary Peltola (D-Bethel) has now clinched a full term after the state’s preliminary final vote count was released the day before Thanksgiving. The end result was predictable, especially when Rep. Peltola easily placed first in the aggregate count, with a 49-26-23 percent margin over former Gov. Sarah Palin (R) and businessman Nick Begich III (R).

The first round of Ranked Choice Voting, which eliminated distant fourth-place finisher Chris Bye (Libertarian), almost put Peltola over the top. In this round, against both Palin and Begich, Rep. Peltola scored 49.2 percent of the adjusted vote. This result meant eliminating Begich, who was the third-place finisher. The third RCV round easily went to Rep. Peltola, who defeated Palin on a 55-45 percent tabulation. The Peltola victory increases the House Democratic Conference to 213 members as compared to the Republicans’ 221 with one California race remaining outstanding.

CA-13: The Last One Outstanding — We now have 434 US House races projected and the final partisan division count comes down to the end result from California’s new 13th Congressional District in the Fresno area. This post-election period could go on for some time.

The aggregate count, with a projected 96 percent of the votes recorded, although these estimates have not proven particularly reliable throughout the California counting process, gives Republican agri-businessman John Duarte a 593-vote lead over state Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced). The county with the largest outstanding vote at a 90 percent estimated recorded figure, is Stanislaus, which slightly favors Gray.

Depending upon this last outcome, the Republican House majority will be either 221-214 or 222-213. Another Speaker vote for California Republican Kevin McCarthy could also be critical in relation to how that internal race unfolds on Jan. 3.

We can expect further days before a preliminary count is revealed, and it is likely we will see a long period of vote challenges from both sides prior to final certification of a winner. The California election certification deadline is Dec. 16.

Governor

Alaska: Gov. Dunleavy Re-Elected Outright — One race that did not need a Ranked Choice Voting round was the Alaska governor’s contest. Incumbent Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) won a second term in the aggregate count, scoring 50.3 percent of the vote against three other candidates.

In a distant second place was Democratic former state representative Les Gara who posted 24.2 percent of the vote, while former Gov. Bill Walker, again running as an Independent, followed. The latter man recorded 20.7 percent of the aggregate popular vote. In the final general election qualifying position was Republican former Kenai Borough Peninsula Mayor Charlie Pierce who managed to secure only 4.5 percent of the vote.

Gov. Dunleavy, who faced an aborted recall effort early in his tenure, is the first re-elected Alaska chief executive since Democratic Gov. Tony Knowles won a second term in 1998.

Murkowski’s Lead Tenuous in Alaska; Blumenthal Gains Momentum in Conn.; Still a Tight Race in NH; More House News

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022

Senate

Alaska incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R)

Alaska: Sen. Murkowski’s Tenuous Lead — A new Alaska Survey Research organization poll (Oct. 19-22; 1,276 likely Alaska general election voters; text to online) forecasts a tight US Senate election between incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) and former state Director of Administration Kelly Tshibaka (R).

The actual vote is projected to break 41-39-16-4 percent with Sen. Murkowski leading Tshibaka, Democrat Pat Chesbro, and Independent Buzz Kelley. Such a result would eliminate the fourth-place finisher who has already withdrawn from the race and endorsed Tshibaka. The first RCV round would eliminate Chesbro by a closer 41-40-17 percent. The final RCV round between Sen. Murkowski and Tshibaka would then break the incumbent’s way, according to the ASR poll, 56-44 percent. Therefore, while Sen. Murkowski will likely not reach an outright victory in the actual vote, she is positioned to fare well under the ranked choice system.

Connecticut: Momentum for Sen. Blumenthal — Last week we saw a Fabrizio Lee & Associates survey that found Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s (D) lead over Republican nominee Leora Levy shrinking to 49-44 percent. Countering this data is a new survey from Connecticut based Quinnipiac University (Oct. 19-23; 1,879 likely Connecticut general election voters) that restores Sen. Blumenthal to a 56-41 percent advantage, similar to what the September Q-Poll produced. The latter data is more consistent with other polls of this race, suggesting that the Fabrizio Lee survey may be an outlier.

New Hampshire: Not Quite Over — Three recent pollsters find that the New Hampshire Senate race, one many Republicans conceded to Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) once retired Army Gen. Don Bolduc (R) won the Sept. 13 Republican primary, may not yet be clinched. The three pollsters, all surveying the Granite State electorate within the Oct. 17-23 period with sample sizes ranging from 600 to 727 likely New Hampshire general election voters, finds Sen. Hassan’s lead dwindling to between one and three percentage points.

Fabrizio Ward & Associates, Emerson College, and Insider Advantage, found respective 49-47 percent, 48-45 percent, and 48-47 percent results. Such results suggest this race is headed back to toss-up status.

House

AK-AL: Rep. Peltola’s Strong Lead — The aforementioned Alaska Survey Research organization poll (see Alaska Senate above), while projecting a tight result for Sen. Murkowski (R) sees the opposite trend for August special congressional election winner Mary Peltola (D-Bethel). The House poll suggests that Rep. Peltola has a chance to win outright opposite former governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, businessman Nick Begich III (R), and Libertarian Chris Bye. Even if she does advance into the RCV round, it also appears that she would easily beat both Palin and Begich in one-on-one contests.

The ASR polling results find the initial vote cutting 49-26-21-5 percent for Peltola, Palin, Begich, and Bye, respectively. Obviously, the polling margin of error could mean that Rep. Peltola wins at this point since she is so close to the majority mark. Should Rep. Peltola fail to reach 50 percent, she would then likely advance to a final RCV round with Palin. The poll projects that the congresswoman would win the one-on-one pairing with 57 percent of the Ranked Choice Vote.

MN-1: Rep. Finstad Expands Lead — August special congressional election winner Brad Finstad (R-New Elm/Rochester) has jumped out to a nine-point lead in his re-match race with retired Hormel Corporation CEO Jeff Ettinger (D) according to a just released Survey USA poll (Oct. 20-23; 563 likely MN-1 general election voters). In what many believed to be a toss-up general election campaign, this study producing a 46-37 percent advantage for Rep. Finstad suggests that the race is clearly leaning to the Republican side.

Alaska’s Ranked Choice Voting System Favors Sen. Murkowski, Begich over Palin; Dr. Oz Closes On Lt. Gov. Fetterman in PA; CA-26 Race Tightens

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022

Senate

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R)

Alaska: Ranked Choices Favors Sen. Murkowski — The new Alaska Survey Research firm tested the Alaska Senate race, and we again see Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) having trouble distancing herself from challenger and fellow Republican Kelly Tshibaka.

The ASR poll (Sept. 25-27; 1,282 likely Alaska general election voters; online) finds Sen. Murkowski leading Tshibaka only 41-39 percent on the ballot test question, with Democrat Pat Chesboro attracting 17 percent support, and Republican Buzz Kelley garnering a four percent preference factor. Kelley has already withdrawn as an active candidate and endorsed Tshibaka, but his name remains on the ballot as one of the four finalists from the Aug. 16 primary vote.

The Ranked Choice system then kicks in to put Sen. Murkowski well ahead in the final round. After Chesbro and Kelley are officially eliminated, Sen. Murkowski would top Tshibaka, 57-43 percent, once the second and third choice votes are added to the tabulation.

Pennsylvania: Movement Confirmation — Yesterday, as well as late last week, we reported upon a trio of surveys finding Dr. Mehmet Oz (R) coming within close range of Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) on the various ballot test questions. Fox News, Franklin & Marshall, and Insider Advantage found the Fetterman lead dropping to three and four percentage points.

Now, Emerson College has released their Pennsylvania statewide survey, the fourth coming to a similar conclusion within a constant time realm. The new Emerson study (Set. 23-26; 1,000 likely Pennsylvania voters; multiple sampling techniques) sees Dr. Oz coming within the polling margin of error, trailing Fetterman by only a 45-43 percent count.

House

AK-AL: Poll Finds Begich Passing Palin — The aforementioned Alaska Survey Research poll (see Alaska Senate above) also tested the state’s at-large US House District campaign and it discovered two significant data points. First, in the ballot test of the four candidates who advanced into the general election, businessman Nick Begich III now moves ahead of former governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin by two and three percentage points on the initial vote and first Ranked Choice Voting round.

The second finding is newly elected Rep. Mary Peltola (D-Bethel) would defeat either Begich or Palin even before getting to the second Ranked Choice round. According to the ASR poll, Rep. Peltola would achieve majority support, thus winning the election, once Libertarian Chris Bye, the fourth-place finisher, is eliminated from further competition.

CA-26: Poll Suggests New Race Bubbling to the Surface — A just-released OnMessage survey (Sept. 14-18; 400 likely CA-26 voters; live interview) surprisingly finds Rep. Julia Browley (D-Westlake Village/Ventura) leading Republican Matt Jacobs by only a 48-43 percent point spread. This poll, that even finds Jacobs leading among the self-described Independents 44-34 percent, is quite a change from the June 7 jungle primary results. In that election, Brownley topped Jacobs, 54-38 percent, with three other candidates sharing the remaining eight percent of the vote.

Whether Jacobs can become competitive to the point of unseating Rep. Brownley remains to be seen in a southern California district that President Biden carried 61-36 percent. For her part, Brownley has averaged 61 percent of the vote in her last three terms, but did have close calls in both her original 2012 election (53-47 percent) and 2014 (51-49 percent).

Tight Polls in Arizona; Independent Fairs Well in Utah; More Alaska Ranked Choice Voting Analysis

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022

Senate

Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly (D)

Arizona: Two Tight Polls — In the 2020 special US Senate election, then-candidate Mark Kelly (D) consistently ran ahead of then-Sen. Martha McSally (R) and by an average of 7.1 percentage points in 21 polls conducted from Oct. 1 to Election Day, but only won the race, 51-49 percent. In the 2020 cycle, we see much closer polling as two new surveys exemplify.

The pair of studies, both taken during the Sept. 6-7 period, are from Emerson College (627 likely Arizona voters; multiple sampling techniques) and the Republican research firm Insider Advantage (550 likely Arizona voters). Emerson finds the race well within the polling margin of error at 47-45 percent, while the IA result projects a 45-39 percent division. Both post Sen. Kelly leading Republican nominee and venture capitalist Blake Masters.

Utah: Another Independent Faring Well — Utah Independent US Senate candidate Evan McMullin released a Democratic firm’s poll that yields him a one-point edge. Impact Research (Aug. 29-Sept. 1; 800 likely Utah general election voters) found McMullin leading Sen. Mike Lee (R) by a 47-46 percent margin. Sen. Lee quickly countered with re-releasing his early August WPA Intelligence poll that saw him holding a major 50-32 percent advantage. Expect the Lee campaign to soon release more recent data.

House

AK-AL: More Ranked Choice Analysis — The Fair Vote organization, which is the principal promoter of the Ranked Choice Voting system, released a further analysis of the RCV vote in the Alaska special election that elected Democrat Mary Peltola, even though she attracted only 40 percent of the actual vote. The Ranked Choice advocates claim the system rewards the candidate who has the broadest support, but it tends to do the opposite since candidates with minority support have won most of the major races where the system has been used.

The analysis suggests that had candidate Nick Begich III been opposite Peltola in the final round instead of former governor and vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, he would have won the race. The Fair Vote analysis reveals that 59 percent of the Palin vote would have gone Begich’s way — as opposed to Palin gaining only 50.3 percent of the Begich second choice votes. The bigger difference, however, was Peltola attracting only six percent of the Palin second-choice votes as compared to the 28 percent she received from Begich voters.

What the analysis fails to include, however, are the more than 11,000 Begich voters whose ballots were not counted in the second round. The analysis claims those people simply didn’t make an additional ranked choice, but in reality, it may be due to a lack of understanding the confusing system. In other places, attorneys who have challenged the system report that most ballots are disqualified because the voter inaccurately completed the ballot. Since Palin lost by 5,219 votes, more than 11,000 non-counted Begich ballots could have made the difference, and it is likely that a large number of these had their ballots disqualified as opposed to not making a choice. Therefore, the Fair Vote conclusion that Palin lost because the Begich voters eschewed her may not be entirely accurate.

Governor

Arizona: Evolving Dead Heat Race — The aforementioned pair of Arizona polls from Emerson College and Insider Advantage (see Arizona Senate race above) forecasts an even closer race for governor than they do for US Senate. Emerson College projects a straight tie between Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) and former Phoenix news anchor Kari Lake (R), with both candidates posting 46 percent support scores. Insider Advantage finds a similar result with Hobbs leading by the slightest of margins, 44-43 percent.

Examining the Role of the RCV System in Alaska’s Special Election; Rep. Crist Resigns in Fla.; Indiana “Shock” Poll

By Jim Ellis — Friday, Sept. 2, 2022

House

Sarah Palin (R)

AK-AL: Sarah Palin Loses Special Election — The headline here is that former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin fell to Democrat Mary Peltola in the at-large Alaska special election, and the first full usage of the state’s new Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) system was fully in play. Yesterday we reported the results; today we’ll delve into the RCV system that delivered those results.

At the end of the final counting, which was when the Aug. 16 deadline to accept ballots in the primary election expired, 60 percent of voters chose a Republican candidate. However, the RCV system yielded a Democratic victor. Therefore, in a system that is designed to create a majority candidate, in this case the RCV system produced a minority vote share winner.

The finalists from the jungle primary election began with Peltola, who recorded 40.2 percent of the vote. Palin secured 31.3 percent, and Nick Begich III (R) captured 28.5 percent. Begich III is the grandson of former Democratic US Rep. Nick Begich, Sr. (D), and the nephew of former US senator and ex-Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (D). In finishing third, Begich was eliminated from further competition, and his first-place votes were located and then allocated to the remaining two candidates via the voters’ ranking.

Former state Rep. Mary Peltola (D) winner of the Alaska special election race.

As we predicted, based upon the experiences of other states and cities that have used the RCV system, a large number of votes were disqualified, or “exhausted” to use the Alaska vernacular.

Of the 192,158 individuals who participated in the special election and/or regular primary, a total of 3,401 ballots were listed as “blank,” meaning the individuals voted in the election but bypassed the special congressional contest. Another 342 ballots were categorized as “overvotes.” This terminology suggests the owners of such ballots voted incorrectly. Typically, it means the individual, presumably inadvertently, voted more than once for the same candidate, thus disqualifying the ballot.

The categories that likely cost Palin the election, despite the large majority voting for a Republican candidate, came in RCV’s Round 2. In that round, a total of 11,222 Begich voters did not properly manage the RCV system on their ballots, which was to rank the three candidates in the order of the individual voter’s preference.

Lawyers who challenged the RCV system in other places around the country warned that their experience showed a large number of disqualified, or “exhausted,” ballots would be present here, which certainly proved to be the case.

This latter number added to the initial overvotes, meant a total of 11,269 Begich first-place voters saw their ballot disqualified, more than twice the number of votes (5,219) that comprised Palin’s deficit against Peltola’s final victory total. Adding this number to those who chose to bypass the special congressional race meant that 14,965 individuals who voted in this election failed to have their ballot count in the RCV process.

The second category leading to Palin’s demise were the 15,445 individuals who voted for Begich on the first ballot, but decided to support Peltola with their second choice. This is a much higher number than our pre-election estimate projection, and are chiefly responsible for the ex-governor failing to win the general election.

A possible reason that some of these voters chose Peltola is that the Begich name identification comes from the current candidate’s family predecessors mentioned above who were, and are, affiliated with the Democrats. It is possible that the multiple confusion factors present in this race also extended to Begich’s name, with many traditional Democratic voters still thinking he is a member of their party and not noticing his Republican label on the ballot.

Also adding to the confusion factor was the RCV system being used only in this special general election that was run concurrently with the regular state primary. In all other races on Aug. 16, voters were simply choosing one candidate to advance into the general election, where four jungle primary candidates from each race would do so. Therefore, the almost 15,000 ballots being disqualified before the end of the RCV special election process suggests a large amount of confusion within the electorate.

With the same three finalists again advancing into the regular election from the regular congressional primary, which was also held on the same day (Aug. 16), thus producing one more confusion factor, we could see a rerun of the RCV results in the November election. If either Palin or Begich were to withdraw from the regular general election, however, Peltola’s fate would then likely be sealed, since the Republican vote would then presumably overwhelm the number of her Democratic preference ballots.

While the intrigue associated with this one race has now been resolved, new questions will immediately begin to unfold for the impending general election. For now, however, Mary Peltola will be sworn in as the House of Representatives’ newest member.

FL-13: Rep. Crist Resigns — Congressman Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) resigned his Pinellas County-anchored US House seat Wednesday in order to fully concentrate on his gubernatorial campaign. Crist won the statewide Democratic primary on Aug. 23 and will face Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in the general election. Another member of the Florida congressional delegation, Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Boca Raton), who announced in February that he would leave Congress to become the CEO of the American Jewish Committee, will reportedly officially resign on Oct. 1.

With the Crist and Deutch resignations, the Democrats will be down to 220 seats in the House even after adding New York Rep. Pat Ryan (D-Poughkeepsie) after his special election victory certification and the Alaska at-large seat where Democrat Mary Peltola was declared the special election winner. It is unclear if Gov. DeSantis will call a special election to fill the Florida vacancies or just leave them vacant until the new term begins in January.

Senate

Indiana: Shock Poll — Hoosier State Democratic US Senate nominee Tom McDermott’s campaign released the results of their recently conducted Change Research poll (Aug. 20-24; 2,111 likely Indiana general election voters; online), which posted Sen. Todd Young (R) to only a 45-42 percent lead. The Indiana Senate race had been considered non-competitive. The Young campaign responded with criticism over the online methodology and weighting system that Change Research employs. Expect the Young campaign to quickly counter this data with a poll release of their own.

Governor

South Carolina: Gov. McMaster Leading in Consecutive Polls — In a race that had not been polled during the general election period to-date, two new surveys were released on consecutive days. Yesterday, we reported that Gov. Henry McMaster (R) led in The Trafalgar Group survey (Aug. 25-28; 1,071 likely South Carolina general election voters; multiple sampling techniques) by a 51-43 percent margin over former Congressman Joe Cunningham, who won the Democratic nomination back in the June primary.

The next day’s polling release featured a survey from the Democratic firm, Blueprint Polling (Aug. 24-25; 721 likely South Carolina general election voters; live interview), that actually posted McMaster to a larger lead than the Trafalgar result, 50-39 percent.