This weekend stat guru Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com published his projection the states where Libertarian candidate for President Gary Johnson would fair best.
Second on that list was Alaska with a projected 12.4% of the vote.
If Silver is correct and Johnson does that well in Alaska, does that mean Alaska’s votes in the Electoral College — in recent memory have been as safe a bet for the Republican Party as any in the nation — could be in danger of going to Hillary Clinton?
Let’s assume an Alaska contest of Republican Donald Trump vs. Democrat Hillary Clinton starts roughly where President Obama vs. Mitt Romney left off in 2012. That year Romney got 54.8% of the vote with Obama receiving 40.8% and Johnson getting 2.4%.
Hillary Clinton starts the election cycle in a 14 point hole.
If Johnson goes from 2.4% in 2012 to Silver’s projected 12.4%, he would get a net increase of 10 points.
If we give Clinton the generous assumption that Johnson votes will come 4-1 from voters otherwise likely to vote for a Republican, then 8 of those 10 points will come off Trump’s total and 2 points from Clinton’s total. That is a net loss in the margin of victory for Trump of 6 points.
The problem for Clinton is when we subtract that 6 point improvement from Trump’s 14 point advantage, she is still down 8 points in Alaska. That is still a significant deficit.
If Trump continues alienating various segments of voters, Alaska may eventually come into play in the general election. At this point, however, it wouldn’t seem that Silver’s high projected vote total for the Johnson threatens Trump’s lock on Alaska.