The state where President Obama most improved his performance from 2008 was Alaska. He lost it by “only” 14 percentage points this year, considerably less than his 22-point margin of defeat in 2008. …

One factor is that Alaska’s vote is quite elastic, meaning that it can shift quite a bit from year to year. In 2008, 43 percent of voters in Alaska identified themselves as independents on the exit poll, among the highest percentages in the country. (There was no exit polling in Alaska in 2012.) …

Alaska’s population is also changing; between 2010 and 2011, Alaska had the third-highest population growth rate in the country, trailing only Texas and Utah.

Where are those new Alaskans coming from? Many are from liberal states on the West Coast. Between 2005 and 2009, about 4,300 Californians moved to Alaska per year, making it the top state for domestic emigration to Alaska. So did 4,200 residents per year from Washington and 2,200 from Oregon.