March 1, 2016
This is a GOP-only contest today. Ex-Governor and the world’s most famous Alaskan Sarah Palin has endorsed Trump. If this were 2008, it would guarantee him about 60% of the vote.
It’s 2016, and Ted Cruz was only 4 points behind him in the most recent poll, taken in early January. FiveThirtyEight has declined to weigh in due to the absence of data, so we’re on our own again.
The other notable clue is Marco Rubio only registering at 7%, equal to Jeb Bush in that one survey. While we normally find Cruz and Rubio relatively equivalent in red states, they aren’t here. Alaska has a strongly libertarian streak and he’s apparently seen as more establishment than conservative.
On to the guess…
Donald Trump 38.2%
He could go higher here, but it’s not like Trump was an underdog in January. We know his supporters are usually the most solid (Carson has a stronger inner core, but not much beyond it), but he rarely pulls a huge amount of late deciders.
I’m giving him an extra 10 points above that January result, due to additional momentum, grabbing a portion of undecided voters, and a few people who still like Palin buying in. He could do slightly better than this, but not much, it’s not Nevada.
Ted Cruz 27.4%
Beyond Texas, Cruz has three other states he could plausibly win. Minnesota, Arkansas, and Alaska. The poll was taken close to Ted’s apex in the race and he still trailed Trump, so I’m questioning that he’s improved on his position from then.
In most places, Rubio has stolen a bit of Cruz’s support over the past several weeks, but they do not appear interchangeable here. Even if Marco did steal 3 to 5 points, there were other voters for Ted to snag. Rand Paul voters became available for example.
We know Cruz has a better GOTV operation than his peers. We know it’s not usually enough to overcome Trump. But Alaska is really big, very sparse, and not Iowa in terms of participation. If there’s anywhere Team Cruz can steal one through organization, it’s here.
Marco Rubio 16.9%
It doesn’t look like the Rubio magic works in Alaska. I’m giving him credit for improving his overall polling position over the last 6-8 weeks, doing well with undecided voters, the absence of a couple other establishment-friendly choices, and neutral at worst momentum.
This is still more than double his poll number from early January. I just couldn’t justify predicting him to clear the 20% barrier.
John Kasich 9.6%
Kasich is quirky. Some Alaskans are quirky. He hasn’t focused on the state for obvious geographical reasons. Hitting Massachusetts in Alaska in the same day only works when we start teleporting.
You’ll notice I keep picking Kasich with about the same number in each state. This is where he’s polling when there is post-New Hampshire data, and it’s about what the “gotta choose a governor” vote looked like before when there isn’t.
Also, this way, I’m only off by a couple/few points one way or another.
Ben Carson 7.5%
He might outperform this by a point or two. Alaskans like outsider candidates, and Carson still qualifies as one. However, it didn’t look like a top tier Carson state like Alabama. I’m assuming he’s staying in single digits anywhere that didn’t really embrace him.
If Carson led a state during his boom, he can wind up in the 9 to 11 percent range. If he was competitive back then, he’s 6 to 8. If he never came close to leading, 5 or under.