I’ve long thought that Alaska might be winnable for a Democrat in this election cycle, but I knew it was unlikely to be an outlier in that category. If Alaska became competitive, then it would mean that other, more purplish, states had already fallen. The latest poll by Lake Research Group (an established Democratic survey outfit that gets a B-Plus rating from Nate Silver) has Alaska as a dead heat. Trump has the support of 37% of Alaskans and Clinton has support of thirty-six percent. Since the last poll in August, Trump has lost one point and Clinton has gained six. Remarkably, the undecided vote has only dropped by two percent, going from 19% to seventeen percent. In other words, Clinton’s gains have come from a decline in support for Gary “What’s Aleppo?” Johnson who is now polling at a meager 7% in a state where libertarianism is naturally attractive.
Let’s face it, Alaskans are a self-sufficient group, at least on a personal level. It’s true that they all get socialistic checks each year from the Alaskan pipeline. It’s also true that they rely on federal money perhaps more than any other state (see: Bridge to Nowhere). But the citizens chop their own firewood, hunt for a lot of their own food, and they made the decision to live in the wilderness in the first place. It’s a bit of contradiction, sure, but that doesn’t mean Alaskans are clear-sighted about their dependency on government. They can fix a snowmobile. Can you?
Yet, Johnson is doing surprisingly poorly in the Northwoods and people are increasingly seeing him as less rather than more of an alternative to Trump. Perhaps Alaskans aren’t completely myopic about their true situation. They may tend to elect Republicans to represent them in Washington, but those Republicans (most famously, Sen. Ted Stevens and Rep. Don Young) made their reputations by bringing home the bacon. Alaskans have been more libertarian in theory than in practice.
There’s also something about frontier women that makes them particularly disinclined to endorse Donald Trump’s objectifying condescension.
In any case, Alaska is competitive and there are enough undecideds still at this last stage in the race that no one can project with certainty who will win it.