Alaska voters choose Bush

Posted: Wednesday, November 08, 2000

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The presidential race may be a nail-biter nationally, but Texas Gov. George W. Bush had an easy time of it in Alaska.

Bush won about 60 percent of the Alaska vote while Vice President Al Gore captured about 27 percent. Green Party candidate Ralph Nader had a little more than 10 percent of the vote while Reform party candidate Pat Buchanan had less than 2 percent.

While most Alaskans are not registered with any party, Bush's support of oil development on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge put him in step with a majority of Alaskans.

''I went Bush on this,'' said 22-year-old Chris Stewart of Anchorage, after voting in his first presidential election. Stewart said Tuesday that he listened to a lot of talk radio and didn't like what he heard about Gore and the way he ran his campaign.

''I just didn't like the way he went about his campaign making it about the rich and the poor,'' Stewart said.

Bush was the latest in a long line of Republican presidential candidates to carry Alaska. Not since Lyndon Johnson, in 1964, has a Democratic presidential contender won the state.

Development advocates feared a victory by Gore would lead to a ban on development in ANWR as well as a permanent ban on road construction in the Tongass National Forest, the nation's largest.

According to a Voter News Service exit poll of 750 Alaska voters Tuesday, nearly all Republicans and about 15 percent of Democrats voted for Bush. In addition, slightly more than half of those who described themselves as moderate voted for Bush. Results were subject to sampling error of plus or minus 5 percentage points for all voters, higher for subgroups.

Nader's longshot campaign didn't make much of a ripple nationally, but he did strike a nerve with independent-minded Alaska voters who felt Gore was not likely to win Alaska.

''I didn't want to vote for the big boys this time around. Like a lot of people I'm not a fan of the two-party system anymore,'' said Janet Stoneburner, a 30-year-old stage manager from Anchorage who voted for Nader.

Her husband, Mark, said he also voted for Nader because Gore doesn't have a real chance in Alaska.

''I felt free to vote ... for a third party candidate,'' he said.

Nader and political commentator Pat Buchanan were the only candidates to campaign in the state, but Buchanan's switch from the Republican Party to the Reform Party cost him support in Alaska.

Buchanan had won the state's Republican straw poll in 1996 with the support of religious and social conservatives.

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