Alaska’s Republicans have weighed in, and picked Texas Senator Ted Cruz as their presidential candidate. But by a razor thin margin.
Late into the night, results from the Alaska GOP’s Presidential Preference Poll trickled in. It was one of the 12 nominating contests held across the country as part of “Super Tuesday.”
Cruz received over 36.4 percent of the vote, with New York businessman Donald Trump taking 33.5 percent.
What surprised many on Tuesday was turnout. With 21,930 ballots counted as of early Wednesday morning, the numbers exceeded the previous record of 14,100 by more than 50 percent. Polling stations in Anchorage, Palmer, and Juneau ran out of ballots, according to Alaska GOP Communications Director Suzanne Downing, and more had to be printed.
Alaska Republican Party Chairman Peter Goldberg said enthusiasm among party-members in the state is partially due to acute dissatisfaction with the Obama Administration and its policies toward natural resources and other local issues.
“We’re tired of the federal overreach,” Goldberg said as results came in during an event held at an Anchorage hotel. “We’re tired of the disdain that Barack Obama has had for the military.”
Goldberg also thinks Cruz’s visit to Alaska to help Senator Dan Sullivan’s 2014 campaign may have helped him to do well.
Republican consultant Cale Green said that while Cruz won a slight victory, both he and Trump represent a similar anti-establishment sentiment among conservative voters that was last tapped into by Joe Miller.
“Those same people who like Joe Miller often like Ted Cruz, and so you look at places like the (Matanuska-Susitna) Valley, it would make sense that those people voted Cruz or Trump because the message that both of them have is anti-establishment,” Green said.
Surveying the results, Green said it made sense to see high turn out that tilted towards Cruz in Eagle River, the Mat-Su Valley, as well as the Kenai Peninsula, but was surprised by the large Cruz numbers in Fairbanks.
Alaska is not a winner-take-all state when it comes to its primary contest. The 28 delegates sent to the Republican National Convention in July will be divided proportionately among all candidates that received more than 13 percent of Tuesday’s vote. That means Cruz will get 12 delegates, Trump 11, and Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who took 15 percent of the state-wide vote, will receive five.
Ohio Governor John Kasich took just 4.1 percent of the vote. And former neurosuergon Ben Carson received 10.9 percent, although he did win the largest share of the 41 votes cast in Bethel.
Downing cautioned that all results are technically unofficial until ballots can be verified, which she expects to be done Wednesday.
Alaska Democrats have not picked a presidential candidate yet. They hold their caucus on March 26th.