The number of Alaskans who identify with either major party has reached a new low. From Gallup:
This is particularly interesting in light of the fact that recently Democrats in the state abandoned their own bid for governor to instead back an independent Bill Walker. That move turned what should of been a easy victory for a relatively popular incumbent Republican governor in a red state into a serious competition.
I think it also speaks to a broad point about the current political climate. This election will likely be framed as a victory for Republicans but it should probably be more accurately described as a loss for Democrats. Both party’s brands are in very bad shape. It is only because our two party system creates a zero-sum game that simply doing less horribly can make one party look like winners.
In the few big races this year, like the Alaska Governor and Kansas Senate, where the Democrat dropped out the Republican candidates are under performing against their independent challengers. These independents aren’t being brought down by the national Democratic brand so the Republicans are in trouble.
Similarly, one of the thing really helping Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) is that Libertarian Sean Haugh is on the ballot giving people who want to vote against Hagan but also dislike Republican Thom Tillis an alternative.
One of the best thing Republicans have going for them is that in most elections this year is they are basically the only choice for people who don’t want to vote for a Democrat. That is not really victory, just losing less badly.