The Washington Post on Thursday apparently discovered that Alaska is a sparsely populated state. In an online article, writer Philip Bump repeatedly complained about the small turnout in the Republican senatorial primary, making the same point over and over for seven paragraphs.
Regarding Republican Dan Sullivan's vote total, Bump worried that it was "just over 36,000 -- enough for him to have won just one other Senate primary: Hawaii's. Sullivan, in fact, received fewer votes than 20 Republicans who lost their Senate races." The journalist admitted, "This is not a mystery in the least; Alaska is not very populous." Still, he attacked the vote totals anyway.
But nonetheless, particularly for the very real possibility that Sullivan could comprise 1 percent of half of Congress, it is a remarkably small number.
Of course, incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Begich only received 47, 968 votes in his primary. In the 2008, he managed 63, 747. Yet, a Nexis search reveals no hostile article about the unfairness of Begich potentially holding the office, despite being chosen by so few people.
In fact, in the August 3, 2008 Washington Post, David S. Broder predicted that Begich would be part of a new crop of "centrists," insisting:
That description also fits Mark Begich, the mayor of Anchorage, who is likely to be the Democratic nominee for Stevens's seat. Like most mayors of both parties, whatever the size of their cities, he has been held accountable by his constituents for the most basic needs.
It should also be pointed out that the Post was wrong. Begich's lifetime American Conservative Union score is eight, hardly a number for a "centrist."
On Thursday, Bump rephrased his complaint:
Another way of looking at it: If Sullivan carried his 36,000 votes into any other primary, he would have lost nearly all of them. He would have come in fifth in Texas and sixth in Georgia.
So, do vote totals matter or not? According to the Post back in 2008, the citizens of Alaska will hold politicians accountable, "whatever the size" of their win.