On election night it looked as if a red wave would increase Republican control of the Alaska House and Senate. Not only were conservative candidates winning, Ballot Measures 1 and 2, backed by millions of dollars from liberal outside sources, were also losing.
Much of this has changed over the past two weeks as the state tallied more than 160,000 absentee ballots. As daily results came out each evening, Democrats have made massive gains. In some cases, they overturned impressive Republican leads. And Ballot Measure 2, which would fundamentally alter Alaska’s election system, is now ahead by more than 3,300 votes after being down by some 14,000 votes on election night.
A number of conservatives have raised questions about why these races swung so strongly in favor of Democrats and liberal causes. Some of this was expected due to the fact that Democrats spent a lot of time and effort encouraging supporters to vote early, absentee and by mail. Several national studies also indicated that Democrats were more fearful of contracting COVID than their Republican counterparts and thus less likely to vote in person on election day.
Despite these dynamics, many state Republicans have voiced concern over the massive blue tide that overwhelmed their leads.
Some of the races that swung most dramatically in Democrats’ favor include the following. These numbers compare election night to results posted by the Division of Elections on Nov. 17.
- Senate District H: After leading by 4%, Republican Madeleine Gaiser is down 16% to Democrat Bill Wielechowski.
- House District 4: After leading by 8%, Republican Keith Kurber is down 8% to Democrat Grier Hopkins.
- House District 5: After leading by 8%, Republican Kevin McKinley is down 6% to Democrat Adam Wool.
- House District 15: After leading by 16%, Republican David Nelson is up by just 1.8% over Democrat Lyn Franks.
- House District 21: After leading by 2%, Republican Lynette Largent is down by 23% to Democrat Matt Claman.
- House District 23: After leading by 14%, Republican Kathy Henslee is down by nearly 5% to Democrat Chris Tuck.
- House District 25: After leading by 18%, Republican Mel Gillis is down 4.4% to Democrat Calvin Schrage.
- House District 27: After leading by 23%, Republican Lance Pruitt is down by 0.1% to Democrat Liz Snyder.
- House District 28: After leading by 26%, Republican James Kaufman is only up only 3.7% to Democrat Suzanne LaFrance.
- House District 35: After leading by 4%, Republican Kenny Skaflestad is down nearly 18% to Democrat Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins.