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Political party strength in Alaska has varied over the years. The communities of Juneau, Sitka, downtown and midtown Anchorage, the areas surrounding the College/University of Alaska Fairbanks campus and Ester and the "Alaska Bush" – rural, sparsely populated Alaska – stand out as Democratic strongholds, while the Kenai Peninsula, Matanuska-Susitna Valley, parts of Anchorage, and Fairbanks (including North Pole and Eielson Air Force Base), Ketchikan, Wrangell, and Petersburg serve as the Republican Party electoral base. As of 2021, over half of all registered voters have chosen "Non-Partisan" or "Undeclared" as their affiliation,[1] despite recent attempts to close primaries.

History

Alaska regularly supports Republicans in presidential elections and has done so since statehood. Republicans have won the state's electoral college votes in every election except Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson's 1964 landslide. No state has voted for a Democratic presidential candidate fewer times. The 1960 and 1968 elections were close, however, since 1972, Republicans have consistently carried the state by large margins.

The Alaska Bush, central Juneau, midtown and downtown Anchorage, and the areas surrounding the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus and Ester have been strongholds of the Democratic Party. The Matanuska-Susitna Borough, the majority of Fairbanks (including North Pole and the military base), and South Anchorage typically have the strongest Republican showing. As of 2021, over half of all registered voters have chosen "Non-Partisan" or "Undeclared" as their affiliation,[2] despite recent attempts to close primaries to unaffiliated voters.

Unique features

See also: Cannabis in Alaska and Ravin v. State

Alaska was formerly the only state in which possession of thirty ounces or less of marijuana in one's home was completely legal under state law, though the federal law remains in force.[3] Alaska's appeals court ruled in 2003 that Alaska's constitutional guarantee of privacy took precedence over any attempts at marijuana prohibition, overruling a 1990 voter initiative that criminalized possession of all amounts of the drug. The court ruled that voters, who approved the criminalization measure, did not have authority to change the state constitution protecting one's privacy.[4]

Alaska is also unusual in that it does not have counties. Instead, it is divided into boroughs in some of the more populated areas, but nearly half the state is in the Unorganized Borough and has no local government or services other than town or village councils. The Unorganized Borough, however, does include some major population centers such as Nome and Bethel.

State

The Alaska Legislature consists of a 20-member Senate serving 4-year terms and 40-member House of Representatives serving 2-year terms. Since 1994, it has been dominated by conservatives, generally Republicans (although currently there is a bipartisan working group in the Senate). Likewise, recent state governors have been mostly conservatives, although not always elected under the Republican Party banner. Republican Wally Hickel was elected to the office for a second term in 1990 after leaving the Republican Party and briefly joining the Alaskan Independence Party ticket just long enough to be reelected. He subsequently officially rejoined the Republican fold in 1994.

Recent and ongoing U.S. Justice Department probes continue into Alaskan politics. Stevens, who had served since 1968, was caught up in a larger probe that included Federal Bureau of Investigation raids in summer 2007 at the offices of six Alaska legislators, including Stevens' son, Ben, who was then the president of the state Senate, and a raid on Senator Ted Stevens' personal home.[5] Stevens drew the FBI and Justice Department attention over his home renovation project done in 2000, which more than doubled the size of his home. Bill Allen, founder of VECO Corporation, an oil supplying and engineering company, oversaw the work at Senator Steven's home. Bill Allen has since pleaded guilty to bribing Alaska state legislators. Alaska lawmakers went as far as embroidering ball caps with the letters CBC, for "Corrupt Bastards Club." The Washington Post describes more into the political scandals with its article entitled "I'll sell my soul to the Devil" from a tape quote from Pete Kott, former Republican speaker of the Alaskan legislature.[6] On October 27, 2008, Stevens was convicted on seven counts of making false statements. His conviction was reversed,[7] six months after he lost the election to the Democrat, because of misconduct by prosecutors.

Federal

Alaska's current members of the United States Congress are three Republicans, following the defeat of Democrat Mark Begich in 2014.

Because of its population relative to other U.S. states, Alaska has only one member in the U.S. House of Representatives. This seat is currently vacant, having been held by Republican Don Young before his death in March 2022. He had been re-elected to his 25th consecutive term in 2020. His seniority in House made him one of the most influential Republican House members. His position on the House Transportation Committee allowed him to parlay some $450 million to the Gravina Island Bridge and the Knik Arm Bridge, both derided as "bridges to nowhere". Alaska's at-large congressional district is currently the world's second-largest legislative constituency by area, behind only the Canadian territory of Nunavut.

Republicans Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski represent Alaska in the United States Senate. Sullivan has held the state's Class 2 Senate seat since 2015, and Murkowski has its Class 3 seat since 2002. Notably, Murkowski was re-elected in 2010 in a write-in campaign, after losing the Republican primary to Tea Party-backed challenger Joe Miller. The campaign made national headlines, and Murkowski became the first Senator to be elected in a write-in campaign since Strom Thurmond of South Carolina in 1954. Since winning re-election, Murkowski's voting record has notably become more moderate.

Presidential election results
Presidential election results[8]
Year Republican Democratic
1960 50.9% 30,953 49.1% 29,809
1964 34.1% 22,930 65.9% 44,329
1968 45.3% 37,600 42.7% 35,411
1972 58.1% 55,349 34.6% 32,967
1976 57.9% 71,555 35.7% 44,058
1980 54.4% 86,112 26.4% 41,842
1984 66.7% 138,377 29.9% 62,007
1988 59.6% 119,251 36.3% 72,584
1992 39.5% 102,000 30.3% 78,294
1996 50.8% 122,746 33.3% 80,380
2000 58.6% 167,398 27.7% 79,004
2004 61.1% 190,889 35.5% 111,025
2008 59.4% 193,841 37.8% 123,594
2012 54.8% 164,676 40.8% 122,640
2016 51.3% 163,387 36.6% 116,454
2020 52.8% 189,951 42.8% 153,778

Parties and registration

Recognized political parties

Party registration

Party registration as of Mar 1, 2022[9]
Party Total voters Percentage
Unaffiliated 341,191 57.40%
Republican 144,279 24.27%
Democratic 78,660 13.23%
Alaskan Independence 18,956 3.19%
Other political groups 11,353 1.91%
Total 594,439 100%


See also

References

  1. ^ "State of Alaska". Gov.state.ak.us. Archived from the original on February 25, 2008. Retrieved June 2, 2010.
  2. ^ "State of Alaska". Gov.state.ak.us. Archived from the original on February 25, 2008. Retrieved June 2, 2010.
  3. ^ Volz, Matt (July 11, 2006). "Judge rules against Alaska marijuana law". The Seattle Times. Frank A. Blethen. Archived from the original on June 17, 2008. Retrieved May 22, 2008.
  4. ^ Noy v. Alaska, 83 P.3d 538, 543 (2003).
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-08-17. Retrieved 2007-07-31.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) | Federal agents raid Sen. Ted Stevens' Girdwood home
  6. ^ Vick, Karl. "I'll Sell My Soul to the Devil". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 4, 2010.
  7. ^ Washington Post, 8 April 2009, "Judge Orders Probe of Attorneys in Stevens Case"
  8. ^ Leip, David. "General Election Results – Alaska". United States Election Atlas. Retrieved November 18, 2016.
  9. ^ "Alaska Division of Elections".