POLITICS FEBRUARY 5, 2008
Alaska is big, far, and sparsely populated. It is difficult to get to and even harder to navigate. For these reasons, no candidate has visited the state. Mitt Romney sent a son. Mike Huckabee dispatched his wife. Barack Obama is the only major candidate with a state headquarters. Not a single state poll has been taken, meaning it’s difficult to make more than a token guess at its outcome.
Delegates: Democrats, 18; Republicans, 29.
Format: Both parties use closed caucuses and distribute their delegates proportionally.
Democratic Fundraising: Barack Obama, $36,262; Hillary Clinton, $32,417.
Republican Fundraising: Ron Paul, $65,774; Mitt Romney, $32,200; John McCain, $22,159.
Endorsements: The state’s resident heavy hitters--Senator Ted Stevens and Representative Don Young--have withheld their endorsements, while Senator Lisa Murkowski has endorsed Mitt Romney. Former governor Tony Knowles has endorsed Barack Obama.
Demographics: Over half of the state’s electorate is not registered with a party and so will be shut out from both caucuses. Former Alaska senator Mike Gravel (who lost his seat in 1980) is all but forgotten to Alaska’s transient population and has little chance of success even on his home turf, says University of Alaska Fairbanks professor Gerald McBeath. The results are a toss-up between Obama and Hillary--the lack of polling makes it difficult to predict, although Obama is hoping that the caucus format will serve him as well in Alaska as it did in Iowa.
Ron Paul could do surprisingly well, as his libertarianism appeals to Alaskans’ proud individualism. McBeath still predicts that Paul will lose to McCain, Huckabee, or Romney—though it is difficult to predict which one. Romney is the only major candidate from either party to favor drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge, which is a popular position among the state’s citizenry.
Get a rundown of other states at play at TNR's Super Tuesday Primer, updated with new states every day leading up to February 5.