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Ranked-Choice Voting Boosts Palin 6 Points, Just 3 Points Short of a 2nd Ballot Win

Updated: Jan 18, 2023

The streak of Republicans dropping 10 points in special Congressional elections since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling continued this week as Sarah Palin lost Alaska’s statewide congressional race by 3 percentage points. Previously, Alaska Republicans won the last statewide race by 7 points. Palin’s drop mirrored the margins in the four other most recent congressional specials - Minnesota-1, Nebraska-1, New York-19 and New York 23. And let’s not forget the 59% to 41% state constitutional amendment loss for the pro-life movement in conservative Kansas. These losses could be a blessing in disguise for the GOP, as often the party that loses a handful of special elections learns to adjust how they frame key issues so they win the races that really matter - in November. However, in one bizarre Alice-in-Wonderland type scene, despite the fact that Palin came 6 points CLOSER to winning due to the ranked-choice 2nd ballot, some groups are raising money by pretending that ranked-choice voting hurt her. Without Final Four Voting, and specifically the ranked-choice ballot for the general, Palin lost by 9 points - 40.2% to 31.3% - in the first round of tabulation. Because the state used ranked-choice voting/instant runoffs, voters for the extra conservative candidate (Republican Nick Begich) were able to pick their second choice. Palin received 27,042 of those voters' second choice votes to only 15,445 second place votes for Democrat Mary Peltola to close the margin to 91,206 to 85,987. It is likely Palin would have won if she had encouraged Begich supporters to list her as their second choice, but she did just the opposite by putting out a video showing herself voting for only one candidate, as noted in the conservative blog Must Read Alaska. In turn, instead of looking at the obvious trend of Republicans dropping about 10 points in races the last two months, some conservative talk show radio hosts blamed the very ranked-choice voting system that actually boosted Palin from a 9-point loss to a 3-point loss. None of the other five races in which conservatives lost ground involved ranked-choice voting. Furthermore, in these races, the conservative vote dropped an average of just as much as it did in Palin’s race. If Begich voters hadn’t been encouraged to turnout (because he was on the ballot as he would NOT have been if ranked-choice voting was not used), they may have just stayed home and those who did rank Palin second wouldn’t have helped her get as close as she did to winning. Take Back Our Republic Action Fund President John Pudner made additional points clear during his Fox News Radio tour Thursday in an interview with the great host Marc Cox in St. Louis. Marc is a fierce opponent of ranked-choice voting, so John truly appreciated the opportunity to outline why a Final-Five voting system actually helps Republicans in most cases. Unfortunately, the only case in which it doesn’t help the Republican is when a candidate actually tells voters not to rank them second. And that’s exactly what Sarah Palin did, and what she should not do if she runs in the main election in November to take back the seat. Palin’s self-inflicted wound combined with two other strong forces to send her to defeat. First, Democrats have regained election momentum by focusing TV commercials on allowing abortion in the cases of rape and incest. Second, President Biden boosted Democrats' chances by releasing so much of the strategic gas reserve which artificially lowered the sky-high gas costs and inflation for a couple of months through the election. Between now and November Republicans have plenty of time to make the case when Democratic opponents actually support late-term abortions for any reason, and remind voters that gas cost $2 before Biden took office, and in Alaska asking Republicans to "rank-the-red" by listing both Republicans on the ballot as the voters 1st and 2nd choice in the order they prefer. Those are the kind of adjustments that turn losses into wins - not pretending that a system like ranked-choice voting that once again helped a Republican candidate must be to blame for her loss. These recent election results from Alaska were only for the Special Congressional Election to fill the late Rep. Don Young’s term. In November, we’ll see how the results end up for all Alaska’s state and federal races under their new, voter enacted Final Four Voting system.

For more on TBORA's efforts on Final Five, please click here.

Transcript and List of Fox News Radio Interviews

Thursday’s Fox News Radio interviews with Pudner ran in Alabama (WERC in Birmingham), Florida (Jacksonville WOKV and Orlando WDBO), Illinois (Champaign WSJK), Michigan (WJR Detroit and Lansing WILS), Iowa (Des Moines WHO), Missouri (St. Louis KFTK) and Texas (Rio Grande KURV). Here is a transcript of Marc Cox, KFTK letting Pudner explain why Republicans should support the system on KFTK in St. Louis). Pudner previously appeared in the St. Louis studio, but all interviews today were remote. Marc Cox, KFTK 9:12:47 a.m. – Thursday, September 1 So what's your take on ranked choice voting? I know it's not the reason I had to call in today, but I see that Sarah Palin lost this congressional special election in Alaska. First time in 50 years the Democrats won that seat (TBAF note, this is because Cong. Don Young was first elected in 1973 and served for 50 years before passing away this year). Nobody in the mainstream media is focusing on why. It's because they just adopted this rank choice voting, which they tried to do in Missouri, and couldn't get enough signatures for it. But they're trying to do this across the country. John Pudner 9:13:18 I hate to throw out the baby in the bathwater on this, because there have been a couple of disasters, starting with New York, which just ran a terrible ranked choice. But I do think the system in other places, if it's part of this sort of Final Five setup, actually would really help Republicans a lot for this reason. The spoiler candidates right now are Libertarians, Constitutional party (and the pro-life Solidarity Party) are all taking votes from Republicans. If you had a system like this in Wisconsin and Georgia in 2020, Trump would have won. The 50,000 votes that went to just those three parties that are clearly Trump votes as their second choice. You have one bad (result for Republicans) in New York, but I'd argue in the Alaska Senate race you will have a Republican elected. It could be a pro-Trump Republican or it could be one who's not, but you will have a Republican, Democrats are completely out. I don't know how strong a candidate Palin was. I always felt like she should be a party chair because she raised lots of money and she certainly didn't have the negatives there. But, I think the system actually would help in a lot more races than it would hurt. Marc Cox, KFTK 9:14:29 Really? That's, that's the first time I've ever heard anybody say that. That's interesting. And, she's still going to run in the general potentially, right? John Pudner 9:14:40 Right. Yeah, this one was different. That's the other thing. Democrats are getting better than Republicans at turning people out in special elections, which was not the case years ago. That's what you saw in Georgia. So, remember, this election wouldn't have happened until November, except for the Congressman being lost, so it was all special election. She can be right back on with the US Senate candidates (on the November ballot) and see if we get a different result there. I think that'll be a truer test of the system. Marc Cox, KFTK 9:15:08 Yeah, well, yeah, I guess we'll see what happens there. John Pudner, listen, thank you. Is there somewhere people can go to find out more about what you're doing these days? John Pudner 9:15:15 Sure, absolutely, Just three words, obviously no spaces. We actually lay out some of the math there where ranked choice final five system would have actually saved Republicans, so if you readers are interested in that, take a look. Marc Cox, KFTK 9:15:32 All right. Yep. Appreciate your time. Thank you, John. John used to work for Breitbart. He started Breitbart Sports


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