Alaskan Democrats are preparing to get out the vote this weekend, braving cold and dreary weather to participate in their state's 2016 presidential caucus. Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have been gearing up for the showdown in The Last Frontier, with each team forming a state campaign headquarters several weeks ahead of the caucus. With all of this preparation, voters may be wondering if Alaska follows winner-take-all rules that many other state primaries and caucuses do.
Democratic voters in The Last Frontier State will get a chance to have their voices heard on the March 26 at various caucus locations, divvying up a total of 20 delegates for the two Democratic candidates. At these caucus events, voters will physically separate themselves based on allegiance to either Sanders or Clinton. The majority of the state's delegates will be awarded proportionally based on how the room ultimately divides up, with supporters standing on either the Clinton or Sanders side. If either the former secretary of state or Vermont senator receive less than 15 percent of the caucus-goers' support, then those voters will be asked to realign or bow out.
At the Democratic national convention, 16 of these 20 delegates will be pledged, going to whichever candidate won them proportionally. The remaining four will be unpledged and can vote as they wish.
Both Clinton and Sanders have been working diligently to appeal to the Alaskan voters, with their unique set of challenges. Clinton's team released a set of particular proposals for the Alaskan people she would institute, should she win the presidency. Some of these included maintaining "meaningful partnerships" with Alaska Natives, continuing President Obama's work in protecting the state's economic powerhouse Bristol Bay from future gas and oil drilling, and closing the particularly bad wage gap for Alaskan women. Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders' wife, Jane, will be campaigning in Alaska this coming weekend, with some events specifically geared to working with Alaska Native women.
It will be interesting to see if Clinton's plan for the state ends up having an influence during the March 26 caucus, or if they will ultimately side with Sanders. The Vermont senator currently falls behind Clinton by 303 pledged delegates, but Sanders is expected to win Alaska. And while Alaska's 20 delegates may not make a huge difference, Sanders seems to treat every win, however small, as a meaningful victory.
Despite the state's relatively small delegate count, Alaska's clear relevance in the climate change discussion is enough to get both Democratic candidates and voters interested. Thankfully come this weekend, it looks as though both candidates are willing to rightfully fight for The Last Frontier.