Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Alaska Election 2014: What Does It All Mean?

Your guess is as good as mine.  I guess in today's internet style I should have titled this "The Ten Takeaways From Yesterday's Election and How You can Lose Ten Pounds (or Organize Your Life, or Become Financially Secure in Two Weeks.)"

This post is just my thinking out loud after the election.  Since my foot is still in a boot I can't go run or bike or even walk too much (trying to just let it relax and heal).  So I'll try to write my way out of this.

1.  Republicans won most offices that were up for grabs.  But there are still absentee and maybe early voters to count.

  • Republican Dan Sullivan  is ahead of Democratic incumbent Mark Begich by 48.7% to 45.1% (102,054 votes to 110,203) in the US Senate race.  This morning's ADN headline is "Sullivan holds lead;  Begich won't concede."  Begich was behind Stevens at this point in 2008, but not as far behind.
  • Republican incumbent Don Young handily beat Forrest Dunbar by 25,000 votes (51% to 40%, a margin that didn't change all night) in the US House race.
  • The so called Independent/Unity Ticket of Walker/Mallot is ahead of Parnell/Sullivan (different Dan Sullivan) by 3,160 votes (47%-46%).  The ADN says "Too close to call."  But even if the Walker/Mallot lead stays through the absentee votes, we'll have a governor who was a Republican until he changed to undeclared before joining up with the Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mallot to run as independents.  

Republicans kept most of their seats and took a few they didn't have in the state house and senate.  They picked up one Senate seat in Anchorage
  • (Rep. Mia Costello took Hollis French's seat.  He had originally been the Democratic Lt. Gov candidate before the Unity ticket.) 
The House apparently has one seat switching from Republican to Democratic:
  • Democrat Adam Wool beat incumbent Pete Higgins in Fairbanks' District 5 in the House. 
Other House races are still too close to call. 
  • Republican Anand Dubey is 35 votes behind Democrat Matt Claman in House District 21, held before by Democrat turned Republican after the 2012 election Lindsey Holmes.
  • Independent Daniel Ortiz is 19 votes ahead of Republican Chere Klein in the Wrangell District 36 that was held by retired Rep. Peggy Wilson.  
  • Democrat Laurie Hummel is only 167 votes behind Republican incumbent Gabrielle LeDoux in Anchorage District 15.  This one would be a little harder for Hummel to pull off, though LeDoux gained 140 votes over Hummel when the last 20% of the voters were counted.  I don't know how many absentee and early votes are to be counted in this normally low turnout district.

2.  All the ballot measures passed (well sort of because in the wording on Anchorage Prop 1, a no vote was a vote to pass the proposition).  This is noteworthy because while the Republicans did well when their label was on the candidates, the Democrats did well in the ballot measures where there was no party label.

  • Ballot Measure 2:  To Legalize Marijuana  - we can quibble if this was a Democratic or Republican cause because both parties had key figures leading both sides.  But the Democratic opposition seemed to be more about the commercialization of marijuana than about legalizing marijuana.   It passed 116,803 to 107179 or 52.15% to 47.85%.  Marijuana got more votes than Dan Sullivan.  But then there was no 'maybe' or other options in this election, but there were third parties in the Senate election.
  • Ballot Measure 3:  Increase Minimum Wage
    Yes:  154,516 (68.8%)
    No:    70,082  (31.2%)
    While this is normally a Democratic issue, some of the Republicans supported it on the grounds that states can set minimum wage, just not the feds.  Not sure how much difference that makes with their economic argument that it messes with the free market and causes jobs to disappear. 
  • Ballot Measure 4:  Protect Bristol Bay Fish (by making it harder to build the Pebble Mine)
    Yes:  143,287 (65.32%)
    No:     76,062 (34.68%)
    Note again, that Republican Senate candidate Dan Sullivan got 110,203 votes.  Dan Sullivan who vehemently opposes federal regulation, the EPA report that raised major questions about Pebble Mine, and, from what I can tell, has never seen a problematic development project.
  • Anchorage Proposition 1: Keep Mayor Sullivan's Draconian Labor Ordinance
    Yes:  41998 (46.17%)
    No:  48961  (53.83%)
    Remember, a no vote essentially approved the proposition because of how it was worded:  Should we keep Anchorage Ordinance 37?  Also, only Anchorage voters had this on the ballot so the numbers are much lower.  This was heavily backed by labor unions and Democrats and opposed by Republicans.  
3.   So, what does this all mean?  Here I'm going to just hypothosize possibilities.  But who knows for sure?  Certainly not me.

  • Left leaning issues did well when there was no party label, right leaning candidates did well when there was a label.
  • Nationally, the Koch Brothers Party did extremely well.  It's more than money since there were left  leaning PACs as well that poured lots of money in.  
  • Who's checking the voting machines?  I have no evidence whatsoever that there was any tampering with voting machines.  However, it's clear that such tampering is possible and has probably happened in past elections.  But we have no systems to vigorously guard against such tampering in each state and nationally.  We know that computer hackers can get into large corporate and government data bases.  The US government has accused China of hacking to get into trade and government secrets.  Yet as we watched the somewhat surprisingly heavy Republican victory nationwide last night, I heard none of the national new media even mention election fraud or hacking of machines in any of their attempts to explain what happened.  They can't, because they have no evidence.  But how would they get any evidence?  They don't have any way of checking except for the most obvious, clumsy attempts.  We need to have serious monitoring of all electronic voting equipment, just as we have monitoring of polling booths and voter ids.  

That's what comes to mind this morning after the 2014 election.  There are plenty of other issues to ponder and this is a quick and dirty post.  Don't take it too seriously.  I have things to do today besides blog. 

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