“Crazy times deserve crazy politicians, so it’s not impossible that she wins,” Murphy said. “Though I would bet against it.”
Palin will be competing in a huge field — 51 candidates, including Santa Claus.
That’s partly by design. The voting system Alaska adopted in 2020 was meant to encourage a wide range of candidates to compete. Rather than begin with separate primary elections held by the major political parties, the race will start with one primary that is open to everyone who qualifies. The top four candidates then advance to a general election in which voters rank their favorites.
The system was intended to discourage negative campaigning. Because voters’ second choices are factored into the results, candidates must be careful not to alienate voters who support their rivals. In the New York mayor’s race, this led some candidates to form alliances and campaign together. Does Palin have the discipline to play nice?
“Ultimately, someone’s got to get to 50 percent,” said Moore, the pollster. “That’s tough to do when 56 percent don’t like you.”
Moore said that in the fall, when he modeled Palin’s inclusion in a hypothetical four-way Senate general election between Senator Lisa Murkowski, the Republican incumbent; Kelly Tshibaka, the hard-right Republican challenger; and Elvi Gray-Jackson, a Democratic state lawmaker, Palin was eliminated in the first round.
Alaska’s fierce independent streak could also hurt Palin’s chances. More than 60 percent of its voters are not registered members of either major political party, and Trump is not especially popular. According to Moore, 43 percent of Alaskans have a “very negative” opinion of the former president.
“Alaskans don’t like people from ‘outside’ telling them how to vote,” said Dermot Cole, an author and political blogger in Alaska. For that reason, he said, Trump’s endorsement is unlikely to carry much weight.