Alaska’s midterms may FINALLY come to end with Lisa Murkowski and Mary Peltola keeping their seats

Alaska’s murky midterms may FINALLY come to end today as moderate GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola look set to keep their seats thanks to ranked-choice system

  • The unofficial results of the Alaska Senate and House races will be revealed Wednesday night – more than two weeks after Election Day 
  • The results are more than likely to show moderate GOP Senator Lisa Murkowski emerging victorious over Trump-backed Republican Kelly Tshibaka 
  • Democrat Mary Peltola has a commanding lead over challengers but has yet to reach the 50 percent threshold needed to win with ranked-choice voting 
  • The new voting system is to thank for the victories of Murkowski and Peltola

Alaska is preparing to finally call its midterm races on Wednesday after a confusing ranked-choice election, which saw the red state keep a moderate Republican senator and a Democratic representative.

More than two weeks after Election Day, Alaska is ready to call the Senate and House races – after warning there could be delays due to the state’s newly implemented voting system.

Senator Lisa Murkowski, a moderate Republican who voted for Donald Trump‘s impeachment, and Democratic Representative Mary Peltola are likely to emerge as the winners when the Alaska Division of Elections reveals the final unofficial results on Wednesday night.

The Associated Press has still not called the two races despite 99 percent reporting.

As of Wednesday morning, Murkowski is leading her Republican challenger Kelly Tshibaka, who was backed by Trump. There are only 1,700 votes separating the two, giving Murkowski 43.3 percent of the vote to Tshibaka’s 42.7 percent.

The unofficial results of the Alaska Senate and House races will be revealed Wednesday night – more than two weeks after Election Day. The results are more than likely to show moderate GOP Senator Lisa Murkowski emerging victorious over Trump-backed Republican Kelly Tshibaka

 The unofficial results of the Alaska Senate and House races will be revealed Wednesday night – more than two weeks after Election Day. The results are more than likely to show moderate GOP Senator Lisa Murkowski emerging victorious over Trump-backed Republican Kelly Tshibaka 

Lisa Murkowski is more than likely to keep her Senate seat

Kelly Tshibaka was backed by Trump, but unable to unseat the lawmaker who voted for his impeachment

The Alaska Division of Elections reveals the final unofficial results on Wednesday night, which will veer for more moderate and Democratic candidates thanked to ranked-choice voting

Peltola, who just took office for Alaska’s at-large district in September following a special election that also used ranked-choice voting, has a commanding lead against her challengers. The Democrat congresswoman has 48.7 percent of the vote compared to Sarah Palin’s 25.8 percent and Nick Begich’s 23.4 percent.

Ranked-choice voting allows those casting a ballot to put in order from most to least preferred candidate from any party.

Many argue that this system, however, favors more moderate candidates – and is confusing for voters.

It’s likely this was the case in Alaska considering the red state, which has voted for Republican presidents in every single election minus once since becoming a state, voted to keep a moderate, anti-Trump candidate and a Democrat in office.

The House race is much more definitive, with Democrat Mary Peltola pulling ahead of her nearest challenger Sarah Palin by almost double

The House race is much more definitive, with Democrat Mary Peltola pulling ahead of her nearest challenger Sarah Palin by almost double 

Peltola was elected to finish late Rep. Don Young's term after he died following two dozen terms in office

Sarah Palin made a bid for the House seat in Alaska in an attempt to reenter politics

Democrat Representative Mary Peltola won a special election earlier this year and took office for Alaska’s at-large district in September against Palin

The way ranked-choice voting works is that if no candidate reaches a 50 percent threshold based on the voters’ first choice, then the person with the least amount of votes is eliminated and the second choice of those voters is redistributed to the count for the other candidates. This process continues until one candidate reaches at least 50 percent of the votes.

While the results coming out on Wednesday are considered ‘unofficial’ they are more than likely the candidates that will remain in their seats come January.

Murkowski’s likely victory is expected because those who put their first choice as Democrat Pat Chesbro, who won 10.4 percent of the vote, will mostly go to the moderate Republican if voters put her as their second choice.

Whether Murkowski or Tshibaka won, the weight of the Senate will not shift considering they are both Republicans.

RANKED-CHOICE VOTING EXPLAINED 

Unlike traditional elections, ranked-choice voting structures place all candidates in an open-party election where voters rank individuals from their most to least preferred winner. 

If a candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes outright, they are declared the victor. 

If no candidate wins a majority of first preference votes, the candidate with the fewest first-preference votes is eliminated.  At this point, any first-preference votes for the failed candidate are discounted, and lifts those ballots to the voter’s second-preference candidate. A new tally is counted. 

In the case that no candidate has the most votes once this process is conducted, it is repeated until a candidate wins the majority.  

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