“Crazy times deserve crazy politicians, so it’s not impossible for her to win,” Murphy said. “Even if I would bet against it.”
Palin will be competing in a huge field – 51 contestants, including Santa Claus.
This is partly by design. The voting system adopted by Alaska in 2020 was intended to encourage a wide range of candidates to compete. Rather than starting with separate primary elections held by the major political parties, the race will begin with a primary open to all who qualify. The top four candidates then move on to a general election in which voters rank their favorites.
The system was intended to discourage negative campaigning. Since voters’ second choices factor into the results, candidates must be careful not to alienate voters who support their rivals. In the race for mayor of New York, this has led some candidates to form alliances and campaign together. Does Palin have the discipline to play well?
“At the end of the day, someone has to come in at 50%,” Moore, the pollster, said. “It’s hard to do when 56% 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 far-right Republican challenger; and Elvi Gray-Jackson, a Democratic state legislator, Palin was knocked out in the first round.
Alaska’s fierce independent streak could also hurt Palin’s chances. More than 60% of his voters are not registered with any of the major political parties, and Trump is not particularly popular. According to Moore, 43% of Alaskans have a “very negative” opinion of the former president.
“Alaskans don’t like outsiders 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.