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Election 2016, By the Numbers: Nome, District 39, and Alaska

Alaska state flag with numbers

The General Election on Tuesday, November 8th brought 255,699 Alaskans to the polls, 4,997 of whom were in Alaska’s District 39, 974 of whom were Nome residents.

These three different demographics — voters in Nome, in District 39, and in Alaska, statewide — agreed on most of the choices on the November 8th ballot, re-electing Lisa Murkowski, Don Young, Donny Olson, and Neal Foster, all with wide margins, and approving Alaska’s Ballot Measure 1. But District 39 and its largest town broke from state trends by supporting Hillary Clinton for president, not Donald Trump, and by voting “Yes” on Ballot Measure 2, which was ultimately rejected by the rest of the state.

Among the individual communities of District 39 — places like Unalakleet, White Mountain, Kotlik, Nunam Iqua, Wales, Savoonga, and Gambell — there was broad consensus on each of the ballot choices. Every community in District 39 voted the same way for US President and for Ballot Measure 1 (for Hillary Clinton and “Yes” on 1), and they were nearly unanimous on US Senator and House races and Ballot Measure 2, with only a few villages failing to give majorities to Lisa Murkowski, Don Young, or “Yes” on 2. And there was no ballot choice on which Nome and District 39, of which it is a part, substantially disagreed on Election Day.

Let’s look at the data.

Voters at Old St. Joe's, Nome, Alaska

Voters cast their ballots at Old St. Joe’s. Photo: Emily Russell, KNOM.

President of the United States

Both Nome and District 39 chose Hillary Clinton for president over Donald Trump; Clinton edged out Trump by 2.8% in Nome (31 votes: Clinton 418, Trump 387) and by 31.6% in the district overall (a margin of 1,578 votes). In fact, Clinton carried every single community within District 39 with the exception of District-39-wide absentee ballots, in which Clinton and Trump merely tied at 35 votes each.

Clinton’s margin of victory in Nome, at less than 3%, is among the narrowest of her wins in District 39. By contrast, she carried the village of Savoonga with a margin of 58.1% (Clinton won Savoonga 67.2% to Trump’s 9.1%, or 156 to 21 in votes). She won Shishmaref by 52 points (64.6% to 12.6%, 128 votes to Trump’s 25), Gambell by 57 points (70.7% to 13.8%, 123 to 24), and Koyukuk by nearly 70 points (74.4% to 4.7%, 32 votes for Clinton to 2 votes for Trump).

In the state of Alaska, however, these trends reversed. Trump easily won the state by 15 points, with 51% support (130,415 votes) to Clinton’s 36% (93,007).

Nome’s Votes: US President

District 39’s Votes: US President

Alaska’s Votes: US President

U.S. Senator for Alaska

Unlike their votes for president, both Nome and District 39 largely mirrored statewide trends in voting for Alaska’s US Senate race. Support for victorious incumbent Lisa Murkowski was stronger in Nome (53.6%) and in District 39 (58.3%) than statewide (43.6%).

In all three voting regions (Nome, District 39, Alaska), support for Democratic challenger Ray Metcalfe hovered around 9-11%, while support for Libertarian challenger Joe Miller ranged from 22-29%.

Similar to their ballots for president, District 39’s communities voted in near-lockstep when choosing Lisa Murkowski over her challengers. The only village that did not yield a Murkowski win was Stebbins, which gave the edge to Joe Miller, 57.8% to 33.3% (59 votes to Murkowski’s 34). Ray Metcalfe did not win any local contest in District 39.

Other District 39 communities, by contrast, went for the incumbent by large margins: Galena voted Murkowski over Miller, 69.8% to 14.3% (132 votes to 27); Mountain Village, 76.5% to 10.8% (127-18); Hooper Bay, 62.5% to 21% (125-42).

Nome’s Votes: US Senator

District 39’s Votes: US Senator

Alaska’s Votes: US Senator

U.S. House Representative for Alaska

Don Young will be sent back to Congress as Alaska’s sole seat in the US House of Representatives. Nome, District 39, and the state of Alaska gave similar percentages of ballot support both to Young and his challengers (Democrat Steve Lindbeck, Libertarian Jim McDermott, and independent Bernie Souphanavong). Between the three demographic slices of Nome, District 39, and Alaska as a whole (the three pie charts below), Young captured the most support in District 39 (57.1%), while Lindbeck was strongest in Nome specifically (37.7%).

Similar to president and US Senator, District 39’s individual communities voted very consistently to each other. Every single District 39 community gave Young majority or plurality victories, with one exception: in the village of Teller, Steve Lindbeck defeated Don Young, 32 votes to 31. The US House race was also very close in Wales, in the opposite direction: Young edged out Lindbeck, 20-19.

Nome’s Votes: US House Representative

District 39’s Votes: US House Representative

Alaska’s Votes: US House Representative

Ballot Measure 1

Ballot Measure 1, a proposal to allow Alaska PFD applicants to be automatically registered as voters, passed easily, with wide-margin victories in Nome, District 39, and the state as a whole.

“Yes” votes for Ballot Measure 1 exceeded “No” votes in every locality in District 39; no District 39 community voted against the measure.

Nome’s Votes: Ballot Measure 1

District 39’s Votes: Ballot Measure 1

Alaska’s Votes: Ballot Measure 1

Ballot Measure 2

Alaska’s Ballot Measure 2 proposed to amend the state constitution to “expand the State’s authority to incur debt” by allowing it to issue college / postsecondary student loans backed by the State.

“Yes” votes for the measure narrowly won over “No” votes in Nome; “Yes” won with a greater margin in District 39, overall. Most District 39 localities voted “Yes,” although “No” votes prevailed in Pilot Station (81 “No” to 65 “Yes”) and White Mountain (34-31). The measure garnered tie votes in Kotlik (50 votes each, “Yes” and “No”) and in Nunam Iqua (16-16).

Statewide, however, the measure failed by a substantial margin.

Nome’s Votes: Ballot Measure 2

District 39’s Votes: Ballot Measure 2

Alaska’s Votes: Ballot Measure 2

Alaska State Senate, District T

Incumbent Alaska State Senator Donny Olson ran unopposed in District T, which includes Nome and Alaska House District 39. Nome, District 39, and District T all voted similarly; Olson was reelected easily.

Nome’s Votes: Alaska State Senate

District 39’s Votes: Alaska State Senate

District T’s Votes: Alaska State Senate

Alaska State House, District 39

Incumbent Alaska State House Representative Neal Foster ran unopposed in District 39, which includes Nome. Foster was re-elected.

Nome’s Votes: Alaska State House

District 39’s Votes: Alaska State House


With a rate of 36.7%, the city of Nome had one of the lowest voter turnout rates (the proportion of voter cards cast to the total number of registered voters) in Alaska’s District 39. The District 39 average was 45.5% (4,997 voters out of 10,976 registered). The highest turnout rate in the district was in Koyukuk, with 61.6% turnout: 45 of 73 registered voters submitted ballots. Huslia’s turnout was also high, at 60.7% (105 out of 173).

In District 39, after Nome, Unalakleet had the second largest number of voters go to the polls (258 ballots submitted out of 558 registered, for a 46.2% turnout rate), followed by Savoonga (238 ballots out of 426 registered, a 55.9% turnout).

Across the state of Alaska, turnout on Tuesday is currently counted at 255,699 ballots out of 528,671 registered voters, making for a 48.4% turnout rate.

Registered Voter Turnout, Nome

Registered Voter Turnout, District 39

Registered Voter Turnout, Alaska


In the pie charts for ballot contests above, each contains a “No Vote” slice; this represents the proportion of voters — whether in Nome, in District 39, or in Alaska statewide — who submitted a ballot but did not make a choice for that particular ballot question. For instance, a person who voted but did not make a selection for Ballot Measure 1 is still represented in the Ballot Measure 1 pie chart, within the “No Vote” slice. This is done so that the number of votes for each demographic — Nome, District 39, and Alaska — always adds up to the same number of voters in each ballot question (974 voters in Nome, 4,997 voters in District 39, 255,699 voters in Alaska).

The data used here is based on the State of Alaska’s election results released the afternoon of Wednesday, November 9th, with 99.6% precincts reporting.