Saturday, November 8, 2008

Alaska: Frozen Banana Republic

My main candidate in 2008 was Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, a pragmatic progressive aiming for the US Senate. On education, energy, populism, and so much more, Begich was one of the best Democratic candidates out there, a true 21st century leader. Also noted is the fact that he was up against convicted felon Ted Stevens. That's right -- convicted felon Ted Stevens was looking for re-election. Looked good for Begich, too: the two post-conviction polls showed him over 50%, with a double-digit lead over Convicted Felon Stevens.

Now he's in a dogfight over absentee ballots, and behind the larger poll numbers. Congressional candidate Ethan Berkowitz similarly suffered a huge, last-second swing in numbers away from him. He went from likely Congressman to finish second to corrupt incumbent Don Young. Strange how deep and broad was this last-minute swing across the state.

Strange, too, that Alaska had such a low turnout on Election Day. Heck, with Governor Palin on the ballot, one would have expected enthusiasm. After a 12% gain in participation during the primaries before she was even picked, one would expect a gain in turnout in the general election. Nope:

Alaska's voter turnout numbers won't be clear until all the absentee ballots are in. But it's not expected to reach the 66 percent turnout of the last presidential election year, 2004, and there's dispute over whether it even makes the 60 percent of 2000.

Weird, eh? Even weirder: the low-turnout trend was bucked in some places that had a turnout of over 100%. From Mudflats: "The majority of precincts had voter turnout of over 100%. In some cases, voter turnout was over 200%". Wow! Shannyn Moore gives you a 12-point list of ways that the Alaskan election doesn't pass the smell test. So nobody voted, even though they all seemed to want to, and now there are tons of votes. But they're all for Republicans.

This a "banana republic" from the Wiki meaning: "a pejorative term for a small, often Latin American, Caribbean or African country that is politically unstable, dependent on limited agriculture, and ruled by a small, self-elected, wealthy and corrupt clique" Alaska is in a different geographic location, and their agriculture is really limited -- but the rest fits. Perhaps the supervision of this election was massively incompetent.

Or maybe not. But if Obama is sending his field workers to Georgia, he should be sending his lawyers to Alaska.

PS: First-ever bleg...if anybody knows where I could stay for the night before and after Inauguration in Washington DC, I'd love to be told...I'm really thinking I want to go.

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