Sarah Palin's Chances of Beating Opponents in Alaska, According to Polls

As Alaska holds a special election primary on Saturday to begin the process of determining who will serve out the remainder of deceased GOP Representative's Don Young's term, Sarah Palin appears well-positioned to move on to the next round. But it's less clear whether she can ultimately win the seat.

Palin quickly threw her hat in the ring alongside 47 other candidates to replace Young, who died in March. While the field is crowded, and Alaska has implemented a ranked-choice voting system, Palin's name recognition appears to be giving her at least some advantage in the race.

The prominent Republican served as Alaska's governor from 2006 to 2009. She rose to national prominence in 2008 when Republican presidential candidate John McCain chose her as his vice presidential running mate. The GOP ticket ultimately lost to former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden, who is now serving as president.

In the special election primary to replace Young, the top four vote-getters will move on to a special general election on August 16, which will also coincide with state's normal primary election this year. Palin is expected to finish in the top four on Saturday, according to recent polls and analysts' predictions. Whether she goes on to win is more difficult to assess in a crowded field with a ranked-choice system.

Early results reported by the Associated Press on Sunday morning showed Palin taking an early lead. With a little more than 54 percent of the votes counted, the Republican candidate had garnered nearly 30 percent. Her nearest competitor was just over 10 points behind.

Sarah Palin
Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, a Republican, is running to fill the seat left vacant by GOP Representative Don Young's death in March. Above, Palin speaks with reporters as she leaves federal court on February 14 in New York City. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

A poll carried out by Remington Research Strategies for Must Read Alaska from April 7 to 9 showed Palin leading the pack of House candidates. The former GOP governor had the support of 31 percent of respondents while independent candidate Al Gross came in second with 26 percent. Nick Begich came in third at 21 percent. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent.

Survey results by Change Research, sponsored by pro-Democratic group 314 Action, found Palin with 30 percent support in the first round of voting compared to Gross' 33 percent. After the second round, Palin tied Gross—with both candidates garnering 35 percent support. Notably, Gross ran as a Democrat for Senate in Alaska in 2020. The poll included 728 likely special election voters.

Another poll by Alaska Survey Research in early May showed Palin making the top four, but eventually getting eliminated in the ranked-choice system. That survey included 605 likely special election voters and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

In the first round, Palin finished with 19 percent. Begich came in second at 16 percent and Gross finished third at just 13 percent. The poll then gave respondents four scenarios including Palin and three other candidates. In all four, Begich ultimately came out on top.

The same poll found that a majority of Alaska's likely voters had a negative view of Palin. The former governor was viewed positively by just 36 percent of respondents, compared to 59 percent who had a negative view of her.

Meanwhile, Palin has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump, who easily carried the northwestern state in 2016 and 2020. However, Alaska has voted for GOP presidential candidates in every presidential election since it became a state in 1959, with the exception of Democratic President Lyndon Johnson in 1964, so Trump winning there is not particularly remarkable.

Update 6/12/22, 8:20 a.m. ET: This story has been updated with the news that Palin took an earlier lead as the votes were counted in the race.