Making sense of the midterms

Photos of a selection of Alaska candidates for the midterm elections. Photo courtesy of the UAF Department of Political Science.
Photo collage courtesy of the UAF Department of Political Science.
Photos of a selection of Alaska candidates for the midterm elections.

Jane Jacobs

Nov. 10, 2022

On Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 7 p.m., UAF’s political science experts, Professors A.L. Lovecraft, Chanda Meek, Brandon Boylan, and Assistant Professor Jeremy Speight will hold a panel and Q&A session to demystify the results of the midterm elections. The panel discussion, Making Sense of the Midterms, will be live in the Schaible Auditorium (ELIF 200 on UAF campus) with a Zoom option available. Each of the four faculty members will present and discuss trends and patterns behind the results of the election before holding an open question-and-answer session with the audience. Students and Fairbanks community members are all welcome and highly encouraged to come!

The political science department at UAF has been holding these panels with the public regularly ever since the 2016 presidential race shocked the nation. They saw a need in the community and stepped up eagerly to help the public process the results of the election. The biggest merit of these panels, and the greatest joy of the panelists, is the ability to engage with the community through the Q&A session at the end.

Panelists Boylan and Lovecraft assert that this midterm election, like all elections, is a really big deal. According to the polls, the Murkowski-Tshibaka senate race is closer than expected and Murkowski is in danger of losing reelection, Palin and Begich are splitting republican votes for the house race, with no sign of either one stepping down for the good of the party, and Dunleavy is projected to win governor again. According to Boylan, “it’s been no surprise that the UA system and other public service agencies have not been big fans of Dunleavy because of the drastic budget cuts he levied early on in his administration, and if he wins reelection, people at UA will be worried about more budget cuts and how his people will treat the university.” 

The panelists will cover not just who won and who didn’t win, but the underlying patterns and trends as well. Each of the panelists will develop a presentation based on their own interests and background and talk the audience through a trend that they found to be important in the election. They will focus on what’s interesting and what’s unexpected. For example, Lovecraft is interested to see if questions concerning women’s bodily autonomy drive more people to the polls, and if that will be strong enough to oust a senate that’s been present for some time. Other topics that will be covered include natural resources, the opening of the constitutional convention, and shifts in state republicanism.

Each panelist is eager for the discussion, and hope that if you are reading this, you will come! Lovecraft says that she and the other panelists enjoy participating in these sessions because they all view themselves as conduits between Alaska citizens. “It’s a public university, and as a public university faculty member, it is part of my job to make sure the public has access to public facts and expertise with the general public, and hear their questions and their insights.” According to Boylan, “the elections matter and politics are on everyone’s mind, and we are poly sci dept trained in studying and researching politics and hope we can bring analysis and not just partisanship.” We are so proud to have faculty at our university who are so generous with their time and knowledge!

For additional information on the event, comments or questions please contact Brandon Boylan, professor of Political Science and Director of the Arctic and Northern Studies program.