Sarah Palin Lost, Whining About It Is Not a Strategy

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Readers and I agree on most issues. I think this article might be an exception.

Wednesday night Sarah Palin, a progressive Democrat, lost her Alaska congressional race to replace her. Does this mean Republicans are in trouble come November? It doesn’t. The GOP actually increased its vote share in the district over 2020. It is safe to ignore the rumors that this indicates a blue wave. These opinions are either partisan or come from people who don’t fully understand Alaska’s system.

The majority of the blame for the right’s failures is being placed on Alaska’s ranked-choice voting system. Many Republicans either left their second-choice empty or chose the Democrat. In the end, Palin didn’t have enough votes to win.

It’s easy to be upset about the system but it is what it is. The same applies to mail-in voting. Republicans have two options: they can learn to make the most of it or continue losing races that they should win.

This brings me to some incorrect assumptions. The idea is that Palin has the right to all Republican second-choice votes and that she would have won even without ranked-choice vote voting. Why would Republicans vote for Palin if they were willing to vote for a Democrat, or not have a second choice under the RCV system? Regardless of what some right-leaning people may say, this is not how voting works. If Palin didn’t present herself in a way that made her viable to these voters, then she didn’t earn their vote. And if she isn’t able to form a majority of the current GOP-voting pool in Alaska, she won’t win.

Why was there so much division over Palin’s name? It’s simple. She isn’t a popular figure here in Alaska. Before you laugh, think about what Sarah Palin is to you. For over a decade, she has been irrelevant. Her personal life is a mess and she’s more likely to be in New York now than she was in her home state in the past few years. Her bid for Congress felt more like a ruse to get back in the public eye with the help of Donald Trump’s endorsement than a legitimate campaign.

You may feel that those criticisms are unfair, and you may believe Palin is greatly based on her public image from 2010. While I don’t deny that people feel this way, it is irrelevant when large numbers of Alaskan voters, who are the ones who know Palin best, cannot stand her. They decide who they will elect to represent them. Wailing about election results is not an option. It does not necessarily mean that someone can win an Alaska election just because they play well at CPAC.

The lesson Republicans can either learn from or continue to lose is: Stop running unpopular figures in unstable election environments.