With all of the 2016 Alaska primary races now decided, except the Nageak-Westlake race, we can now self-evaluate where we were right and where we wrong in our primary predictions.
Where We Were Right :) — We predicted voter turnout would be historically low and we were 100% right. Turnout is currently at 15.5%. That is an all-time low.
Where We Were Wrong :( — David Wilson. Where the hell did he come from? We were hearing and seeing nothing on the ground in Wasilla that he could win the primary for Senate Seat D, and apparently neither did Rep. Lynn Gattis. We are only comforted by the fact no one, and we mean NO ONE else saw this coming.
So how did he accomplish this feat? That is a question we will be looking deeply into over the coming weeks. It is an intriguing and fascinating question, at least as far as Alaska politics are concerned.
Where We Were Right :) — Almost all other races. We correctly called victories for Rep. Dave Talerico, Colleen Sullivan-Leonard, Mark Neuman, Delena Johnson, Rep. Dan Saddler, Rep. Lora Reinbold, Don Hadley, Liz Vazquez, Rep. Lance Pruitt, Jennifer Johnston, Zach Fanlser, Dean Westlake, Tom Begich, and Rep. Shelley Hughes.
Even though we put the races in the toss-up column, we take credit for accurately viewing David Eastman’s chances. Very few thought David Eastman could beat Rep. Wes Keller, but we did:
“Eastman is an organized, energetic, and articulate young candidate who sports the backing of the Mat-Su based right-wing group Alaska Republican Assembly. That means he is a real candidate who could win a crowded 4-way primary.”
Where We Were Wrong :( — Senate Seat L. Like most we viewed Rep. Craig Johnson as the most probable winner in this race against Jeff Landfield and Natasha Von Imhof. To be perfectly honest we felt the attention Johnson and Landfield were drawing would likely relegate Von Imhof to a third place finish.
She proved us wrong, showing that a low-key campaign dedicated more to working a good campaign plan and engaging voters directly is better than ones based on getting social media likes, views, and engagements or sitting back and depending on name recognition.
Where We Were Right :) — Ross Bieling. The District 28 house candidate had all the wind at his back in his race against Jennifer Johnston. He had more money. He was running as the more conservative candidate in a Republican primary in a conservative district. And Johnston was the long-time elected official in a year when that was clearly a hindrance to candidates.
Johnston still won by 15 points.
We think this analysis from our race preview was pretty spot on:
“While Bieling will put the time and money into the race, he is still a relative newcomer to Alaska politics. He also appears to have alienated Republican Party insiders and activists, who see him as an overly self-interested self-promoter and doesn’t work and play well with others.”