Editor's Note: The following is a question and answer interview with Neil Cavuto, a FOX Business Network anchor, looking at Alaska's role in the Republican Party's Super Tuesday strategy, what issues may bring Alaska Republicans out to vote, and where Alaska fits into national electoral politics.
Alaska Dispatch: Can you offer insight from the campaigns on significance of Alaska in national politics?
Neil Cavuto: Obviously in the eyes of most Americans, Alaska is seen as the American wild frontier, and the candidacy of Sarah Palin only heightened the interest. As someone who's been to your beautiful state a number of times, "this" time Alaska holds special, timely value -- it's at the epicenter of our country's energy debate. But more, Alaskans tend to be non-conformists, and the ones I've met tend to be very inquisitive and consistently leery of whatever candidates are throwing at them.
I read somewhere that those who move to Alaska, in particular, are pioneers by nature. They've abandoned the familiar for the excitement of the new. We need more folks like that playing in our electoral process, and casting their votes with that smart detachment. We could do worse than have those in our most mysterious state, holding candidates to a higher standard, and the nation, to a greater appreciation for what works and what does not. Who, after all, understands our energy and climate future better than those whose very livelihoods depend on getting it right, and doing it right?
Alaska Dispatch: What should Alaskans specifically be looking out for in the Presidential Preference Poll caucus on March 6 and in the months ahead?
Cavuto: Caucus-style elections tend to bring out the diehards, no matter what the state. In Alaska, I assume even moreso. I'm told that includes a great many Ron Paul fans, for example. That's why I wouldn't be one bit surprised if the Texas congressman scores his first victory in this "other" energy state. He understands Alaskans' rebellious streak better than most candidates, and I suspect, they understand the congressman's as well.
Alaska Dispatch: Alaska like the rest of the nation has just gone through redistricting. Has redistricting caused any problems for other primary voters or turnout?
Cavuto: I think redistricting in general is confusing voters, but I don't think we'll know to what degree until later this year, and particularly in November, when combined districts and candidates, many times from the same party, start taking on one another. It's made for some strange broadsides from those who used to be bedfellows. Since much of the redistricting tends to favor Republicans, nationally, it's been a particular problem for Democrats, but not an easy one for voters, who might just take out their frustrations on both parties.
Alaska Dispatch: Gingrich has picked up endorsements from Todd Palin and, less officially, he and Santorum enjoy support from Sarah Palin. Mitt Romney's lined up most of the Alaska Republican establishment that's actually in office. Any comment on that, or how that will influence the primary?
Cavuto: That is in keeping with the tenor of the race and Mitt Romney's political modus operandi -- line up the establishment, the rest will follow. Of course, that strategy famously failed in South Carolina, when Newt Gingrich stormed to victory. But it saved Romney in Arizona and Michigan, where backing by top state Republicans helped turn out the vote and give the perceived frontrunner the push he needed it when he needed it … badly. Having said that, if Romney can take a state, let's say, like Tennessee, where the establishment support isn’t so monolithic, he might prove he's more than a RINO [Republican in name only], and winning in the South, much more than a big state guy too.
Renegade candidates who buck the establishment ultimately become the establishment. Ronald Reagan proved that as the outsider, deplored by the GOP in-crowd in 1976 when he challenged President Gerald Ford. But four years later, he was the inside guy, when they desperately turned to him to right the Republican ship. So things can change, for this race however, winning that establishment will be crucial to getting by this-go-round.
As for winning in the fall? Who knows. Stay tuned.
Alaska Dispatch: Any prediction on who wins the most delegates in Alaska?
Cavuto: I wouldn't be at all surprised if Ron Paul wins. A safer bet might be Mitt Romney (how's that for hedging). But I think if Paul is to make his mark anywhere, our nation's most northern state is the place to do it.
Neil Cavuto was a White House intern for the Carter administration and currently serves as senior vice president, anchor and managing editor of business news for FOX News Channel (FNC) and FOX Business Network (FBN). Cavuto will host special live coverage of the Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses starting at 8 PM/ET on FBN.