In an evening filled with record turnout and a close, but solid victory for Ted Cruz in Alaska, perhaps the most intriguing outcome of Super Tuesday in the state was the amount of support for arguably the biggest loser of the night.
Poll results show that while Ted Cruz narrowly won the state of Alaska, Ben Carson won the hearts of quite a few Alaskans.
Carson took 11 percent of all votes cast in the Alaska Presidential Preference Poll, which according to the Alaska Republican Party’s website amounted to 2,401 votes. The double-digit percentage vote was the highest in any Super Tuesday state for Carson.
The lowest percentage of votes for Carson came from the U-Med district (District 17), where he garnered 2.9 percent of the vote. On the other end of the spectrum, Carson won 41.5 percent of the vote in District 38 — Bethel.
[View the full results from the Alaska Republican Party]
The landslide victory for Carson is the result of 17 out of 41 rural Republican votes in the western Alaska village. Cruz came in second in Bethel with 22 percent of the vote.
Jon Cochrane said he stepped up to run the Bethel polling site a week and a half ago since the state Republican Party didn’t have anything organized there.
“We were happy that we were able to give people the opportunity in this region to express their preference,” he said. “It was something that almost got missed, so we’re glad we got a chance to allow people to have a voice out here.”
Those 41 votes represent about 10 percent of the registered electorate in Bethel, Cochrane said, and it was more than organizers had expected with little more than a week to get the word out.
As to why Carson did so well in Bethel, Cochrane said he overheard people saying they liked that he’s not a career politician.
“We have a lot of healthcare professionals in town, a lot of people work for YKAC, and a lot of people had comments that he wasn’t a politician and they respected that,” Cochrane said. “He’s a smart, educated professional and they felt like he was their guy.”
Cochrane wouldn’t say who he voted for, but that he didn’t cast his ballot for Carson.
He said the site registered quite a few people who were previously Independent or undecided voters, whether it was to vote for someone they really like or vote against someone they don’t. Notably, Carson’s competitor and GOP front-runner Donald Trump performed poorest in Bethel.
“I heard comments from several people coming in that one of the things that prompted them to vote in the primary, when they hadn’t typically participated in the primary, was that they did not want him to be Alaska’s choice for the Republican Party,” Cochrane said.
Cochrane is working as the interim organizer for the Bethel area until the party can get together to set up a more formal organization in the region.
Even though Carson polled higher than John Kasich, the doctor joined Kasich in not receiving any Alaska delegates. Cruz, winner of the Alaska poll, picked up 12 delegates, Donald Trump took home 11 and Marco Rubio rounded out the top three earning five delegates.
In an official statement Wednesday, Carson said he will not participate in Thursday’s presidential debate in Detroit.
“Even though I will not be in my hometown of Detroit on Thursday, I remain deeply committed to my home nation, America. I do not see a political path forward in light of last evening’s Super Tuesday primary results,” Carson wrote in the statement.
He said he will discuss the future of this campaign Friday in Washington, D.C.
Published on KTVA.com on March 2, 2016.
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