Unaffiliated and non-partisan voters will decide House District 31 race

Nov 5, 2018

House District 31 incumbent Paul Seaton and Republican nominee Sarah Vance speak at a candidate forum in October.
Credit Photo by Aaron Bolton

With Election Day just one day away, candidates are bringing their campaigns to a close. Like many state House and Senate races in Alaska, there are no polls in House District 31. There is one gauge that voters and candidates can look to: voter registration numbers. However, the district’s political makeup is no crystal ball.

In the race for House District 31, former Republican and non-partisan incumbent Paul Seaton is facing Republican nominee and political newcomer Sarah Vance. Both candidates have been campaigning across the district.

But there are no Democratic or Republican strongholds that will allow either candidate to run away with the election. There are about half as many registered Democrats in the district as there are Republicans, according to the Alaska Division of Elections. However, both parties combined only account for 39 percent of District 31 voters.  

The path to victory for Vance or Seaton will come down to how well each candidate appealed to unaffiliated or non-partisan voters, which account for 56 percent of registered voters stretching from Kasilof to Homer.

All nine district precincts mirror those numbers with Republicans outnumbering Democrats and non-partisan and unaffiliated voters outnumbering their partisan neighbors.

Still, both Homer precincts will be a key factor in the race. Homer accounts for nearly 30 percent of all voters in the district. Unaffiliated and non-partisan voters account for a majority of both precincts. The district’s second largest precinct, Kasilof, will also come into play with nearly 2,400 voters. Both Anchor Point and Kachemak City-Fritz Creek precincts will also factor in heavily as the fourth and fifth largest voting blocs districtwide.   

The district also saw a boost in the total number registered voters since the 2016 presidential election. Almost every District 31 voter that registered between 2016 and Nov. 3, that’s about 1,560 voters, declined to choose a party. About 150 voters registered as Republicans, and Democrats received about half of that number.

Roughly 45,000 voters registered statewide since the 2016 election. Unaffiliated and non-partisan voters accounted for all of that growth and more. Both the Democratic and Republican parties lost voters, as did other recognized parties and political groups. The latest numbers from the Division of Elections suggest most of those voters changed their registration to unaffiliated or non-partisan.

District 31 voters will also weigh in on Alaska’s next governor and the race for Alaska’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. A controversial ballot measure regarding salmon habitat will also be on the ballot. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.