Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Murkowski wins in Alaska, deals final blow to Palin

Independent Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, who was ousted in the GOP primary in Alaska back in August of this year by Tea Party and Palin-backed candidate Joe Miller, has pulled to an insurmountable lead in Alaska, with 10,000 votes over Miller, leading 100,868 votes to Miller's 90,448.

Murkowski, who is the daughter of Sarah Palin's first major rival, former Alaska Governor Frank Murkowski, who Palin beat for the GOP nomination back in the 2006 Republican gubernatorial primary, faced an uphill battle from the start of her announced write-in bid. Because of the technical details of write-in bids (voters have to write in the candidate's name according to specific guidelines), most people thought that Murkowski, even though she led in polls, had the political system working against her, and that Miller would ride to an uneasy but relatively safe victory. Even the renowned 538.com failed to call the race properly, because of an underestimated loyalty and drive behind Murkowski's write-in campaign.

While either candidate would have been a "win" for the Republicans, since Murkowski vowed to caucus with the GOP, the Senator's comeback bid after her primary ouster deals a heavy blow to Sarah Palin's increasingly-silly influence in American political culture. This loss by a Palin and Tea Party backed candidate is one of many high profile races that question the ability of Palin and the movement behind her to actually create electable candidates. While certainly there were a lot of wins for Palin, the Alaska, Delaware, and Nevada Senate losses were stinging rebukes in these states where Palin was so effectively able to manipulate primary voters, but unable to convince the larger electorate of her candidate's viability.

But Murkowski's win I have to imagine is something Palin will take personally. Her own state, where she was governor for half a term, seems increasingly hostile to her. Indeed, in a prospective field of possible 2012 GOP candidates for President, Palin falls behind 4 other candidates in Alaska, not a very good sign. Even if her new reality show "Alaska" is a hit, her state is not exactly enthralled. I wonder what implications this has for her future calculations to win the GOP nomination, or President? Alaska has few votes, but if her own home state can't muster up enough to endorse her, why would anyone else?

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