Peltola’s victory became clear Wednesday night, two weeks after voters went to the polls in the first-ever ranked-choice voting election in the state. The Democrat, a former state legislator, beat out Palin and one other Republican candidate, Nick Begich III, in a tight race.
With her victory, Peltola became the state’s first indigenous person elected to Congress. She has campaigned on fighting climate change, strengthening Obamacare, supporting abortion rights, and defending the leftist LGBTQ Equality Act.
After the votes were tallied and Begich III was in third place, his votes went to the voters’ second option, giving Peltola 51.5% to Palin’s 48.5%. Political consultant Sarah Erkmann Ward pointed to Wednesday’s results as a “big wake-up call to Republicans” for how they should vote under the new ranked-choice system.
“Today’s reels should illustrate to Republicans very clearly that when they choose not to rank, there’s a good possibility that when their favorite candidate is eliminated, then their vote will no longer be in the mix. That appears to be what happened here,” she said, according to the Anchorage Daily News. “A certain segment of Republicans elected not to rank. That’s the consequence of not continuing on down your ballot.”
While Peltola defeated Palin in the special House race to immediately fill Alaska’s lone congressional seat left open after the death of Republican Rep. Don Young, the two will meet again in November for an election that will determine who gets the position for the full two-year term, the Anchorage Daily News reported. The seat had been filled by Young for nearly 50 years before he died in March.
Palin, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump in the race, spent four times the amount of money spent by the Peltola campaign, according to Politico. The result comes as a surprise to many, not only because Republicans have dominated in the state for decades, but also because Trump defeated President Joe Biden by 10 points in Alaska in 2020.