Alaska Division of Election numbers show worrisome trend for Begich and Alaska Democrats

The latest numbers from the Alaska Division of Elections tallying the registered voters in the state for this election cycle, as well as the party to which they belong, show some potential holes in Sen. Mark Begich’s supposed superior ground game. A ground game involves getting people to the polls—the success of which can’t be quantified until they go there. But it also involves registering new voters, which the Begich campaign and the Alaska Democratic Party, helped by the national party, have been working hard at. The national Democrats have sent up to 90 people to Alaska to work on that ground game. Lots of money is being spent and as many as 15 offices have been opened across the state. On the other side, the RNC has only sent 11 people to Alaska, and Sullivan’s campaign has been less verbal, publicly at least, about touting its ground game.

It may very well turn out that all the efforts will win the race for Begich. However, the numbers from the Alaska Division of Elections show that when it comes to new voter registrants, the results are less than overwhelming, particularly compared to 2008 when Begich first won his Senate seat. And the numbers should be especially concerning for the Alaska Democratic Party as a whole, which continues to loose numbers. 

As of October 10, the last day the division accounted for voter registrants pre-general, there are 70,469 registered Democrats on the voter rolls, 135,910 Republicans, and 276,225 non-partisan and undeclared voters, loosely considered the “independent” voters.

Of those, 14,111 are new registered voters since July, the last time the Division scrubbed the numbers before the primary. Of those new registrants, 1,365 registered as Democrats and 2,777 registered as Republicans. (During that same period in 2008, 19,259 new voters were added to the rolls.)

The bulk of the new voters–10,810–are those coveted independents. Begich will certainly get a chunk of those voters. In fact, public polls show that although he’s trailing Sullivan, he’s up among independents, something that should concern Sullivan. However, for Begich, it would have been far better had more registered as Dems, particularly given the overall Republican registrant advantage.

But what’s most startling about the numbers is the drop in Democratic Party registrants. From October 2008 to now, there are 6,260 fewer registered Democrats in Alaska, which is the only one of the three main voter categories that lost voters. There are now 9,327 more Republicans and 13,411 new independents.

And those numbers should be particularly worrisome for Begich considering that he only won by 4,000 votes in 2008.

Here are the charts from 2014 and 2008, courtesy of the Division of Elections:


2014 party registration alaska

 2008divsion of elections 10.12. 2008

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10 thoughts on “Alaska Division of Election numbers show worrisome trend for Begich and Alaska Democrats

  1. Garand Fellow

    As someone who knocks on lots of doors every two years I think that we should look at this data from both ends. Yes, lop-sided registration numbers by political party favor Dan Sullivan. But in no small part Dan Sullivan is helping to drive this registration (which is what I mean when I say look at the data from both ends). That is, voters favoring Dan Sullivan over Begich-Obama are moving to the Republicans, and are being motivated to register and vote. For instance, I would bet there are more albino moose in Alaska than there are Alaska Marines who are not voting this year and voting for Dan Sullivan.

    Testing which phenomenon is a larger part of the data, and what part of the data, if any, is entirely distinct from the other may be impossible. In any event it is entirely beyond the capability of any Alaska polling firm, but the fact that it can and in this instance very likely does exist helps explain why pollsters do so poorly in Alaska.

  2. Dr. Forrest Nabors

    Great work Amanda.

    My take: the decrease in Dem, increase in Repub registrants from 2008-2014 might just be a mathematical expression of what we thought we already knew – that the headwinds Senator Begich faces are stronger this year than in 2008. But he has had 6 years to prepare for this campaign.

    His path to victory is to carve out the middle, and turn them out, which is what I believe they are trying to do. Can his campaign’s focused efforts overcome the anti-Obama headwinds? We’ll know soon.


  3. Anonymous

    I think there was a lot of new voters (maybe one-timers?) in 2008 that wanted to vote for Obama.

    Wasn’t that also one of the greatest Alaska Election turnouts?

  4. Kevin

    Right after the primary election registration closed there were 494k voters. So in two months we registered 15k more voters? Are you kidding me? Have you seen how inefficient the division of elections is? There is no way that they processed that many people. Between 7/26/2014 and 10/10/2014 there were 55 work days excluding state holidays – so, 15k people – you’re telling me the STATE OF ALASKA processed about 275 people per day? No way. I don’t think the DOE is up to the task. And furthermore, our population would be the highest in state history, even higher than during the presidential election.

    Registered voting population always drops in a midterm – and yet here we are. This is fishy…This is as fishy as when Dan Sullivan said he refused to vote for a candidate in 2010 because there would be a conflict of interest, even though you would think that as a lawyer he’d know that your vote was constitutionally protected regardless of where you were appointed by Sarah Palin.

  5. CPG 49

    Nice report. Good news for Republican senate candidate Sullivan. It’ll be good having a veteran, a Marine, representing Alaska in the nation’s capitol.

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