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I can hear you now: WHAT? So many of the polls and projections were so close. Yeah, you’re talking National, I’m talking Alaska. According to Pollster, Begich never lost his lead. And the House race? Berkowitz all the way.
So what happened? There are a variety of potential scenarios. First, turnout was lower in Alaska in 2008 then in 2004. (I heard that on CNN yesterday.) So my first guess is that the Democrats stayed home, and therefore the likely voters were wrong, because of the “voted before” factor in the models. And it’s entirely conceivable that the people who would have voted Democratic stayed home in greater numbers than those who voted. Remember that registration runs about 38% no-party. I don’t know if that is the highest percentage in the country, but if it isn’t, I bet it’s close to the top.
The other option is based on Tip O’Neill’s “All politics is local”. For all we think from a distance, Ted and Don do their jobs with respect to what Alaska needs, as I wrote about here. Therefore, there may well have been an actual desire on the part of the electorate to keep Ted and Don. Even if Begich pulls it out in the end (or any recount there may be) it will be a squeaker, unlike the polls.