We have this odd situation where Ted Stevens, who was polled 22 points down to his challenger after his conviction on seven felony counts of bribery and corruption, is, oddly, winning an Alaskan election where voter turnout is LOWER than it was in 2004.
Alaskans are different. Very different.
Elections officials, party leaders and voters are wondering what happened this Tuesday in the Last Frontier, where turnout was surprisingly low and two lawmakers who have been the focus of FBI corruption investigations appear to have been reelected despite polling suggesting they would be ousted.
The final voter turnout numbers won’t be available until absentee ballots are counted, which could take at least another week. But this year’s total is not expected to eclipse Alaska’s 66 percent turnout in 2004 or its 60 percent clip in 2000. (This is especially odd given that Alaska’s Board of Elections saw a 12.4 percent hike in turnout for the August primaries, before Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was selected as the Republican Party’s vice presidential nominee.)
Alaska returns (without the uncounted absentee and contested ballots) show the McCain-Palin ticket garnering 136,348 votes. In 2004, President Bush got 190,889 votes, a “significant disparity“, the Anchorage Press reported. “These numbers only add to the oddity of this election in Alaska; in the run-up to Tuesday, Alaskan voters seemed energized to vote for a ticket with our governor on it, despite the barrage of criticism Palin faced.”
Couple the dip in support for McCain-Palin with surprising victories for longtime Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, who was found guilty Oct. 27 on seven felony charges, and Rep. Don Young, who is under investigation by the FBI, and a lot of pollsters and voters were left stumped….
So, riddle yourself this: Don’t you think that Ted Stevens had a good long time to consider the worst case scenario? After all, the trial tapes showed that he was guilty as hell, AND he told his oil buddy (who was on a wire) that the worst that could happen was they could get fined, or maybe spend some time in jail.
A guy like that makes plans.
So, if — as I’ve seen in Oregon politics for too long — the idea was to hold the seat and hand it off to a selected successor (like, say, Sarah Palin), then winning the election would seal the deal.
Small states with only about 750,000 residents aren’t very tough to game.
More on the Palin angle later. But for tonight, consider that something smells very fishy up in Alaska.
And it ain’t the fish.