Why AP called Alaska's Senate race for Republicans

WASHINGTON (AP) — Exactly who’ll win Alaska’s U.S. Senate contest isn’t clear, but it will be a Republican.

Donald Trump-backed Kelly Tshibaka and Republican incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski are in a tight race with neither on track to win more than 50% of the vote. And in Alaska, that means the race will proceed to ranked choice voting later this month.

In Alaska, the top four finishers in the primary advance to the general election, where ballots are counted in rounds. A candidate can win outright with more than 50% of the vote in the first round. But if no candidate hits that threshold, the race moves on to ranked choice voting.

In that process, the candidate with the fewest votes in the initial count of votes is eliminated, and voters who chose that candidate as their top pick have their vote replaced with their second-choice pick. These elimination rounds continue until two candidates remain, and whoever has the most votes at the end wins.

Those ranked choice tabulation rounds are expected to take place Nov. 23.

The race also included Democrat Pat Chesbro and Republican Buzz Kelley, who ended his campaign in September and supported Tshibaka.

It’s clear from the vote count they will be eliminated in the ranked choice process, leaving Tshibaka and Murkowski as the two finalists. And as both Tshibaka and Murkowski are Republicans, that means it’s also clear the GOP will hold that seat in the next Congress.

The Associated Press has not declared either Tshibaka and Murkowski the winner. But AP has also concluded that one or the other will end up as the winner, and that’s why the seat is a hold for the GOP.

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Mike Catalini can be reached at https://twitter.com/mikecatalini

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Check out https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections to learn more about the issues and factors at play in the 2022 midterm elections. Follow AP’s coverage of the 2022 midterm elections at: https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections

Mike Catalini, The Associated Press