Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has had plenty of successes this year, but might be about to rack up a big fail tonight as voters in her home state decide whether to oust Sen. Lisa Murkowski.
There are few public polls for this race but operatives for both Republicans and Democrats tell TPM they expect Murkowski to prevail tonight by a wide margin. Still, in a last-ditch effort to boost her preferred candidate Joe Miller, Palin recorded a robocall you can hear below suggesting Murkowski is a waffler who prefers Democratic policies. And even though several Republicans have been toppled this year by tea-party-favored candidates like Miller, those claims are a stretch.
A major question that’s likely to be resolved tonight is just how influential Palin remains in her home state, given she resigned from the governorship last summer and has become a national figure.
“Her endorsement has a lesser impact than it would have had two years ago when she was at the peak of her visibility,” an Alaska Republican familiar with the race but not affiliated with either campaign told TPM.The source said a recent poll showed Palin with a 41% favorability rating and 46% unfavorable rating in Alaska. “That’s a long way from the 80+ favorable she had in summer of ’08 when she was the nation’s most popular governor,” the source said.
Plus, as ABC’s Jonathan Karl lays out nicely here, there’s a longstanding family feud at the root of Palin’s anti-Murkowski feelings.
Palin says Miller has “backbone” to stand up to President Obama, and charges that Murkowski “has voted with the Democrats more than any Republican up for reelection this year.” Those efforts are on top of several exclamation-laden Tea Party Express emails and fundraising drives and an endorsement from the Minutemen for opposing “amnesty” for illegal immigrants.
The group wrote supporters this week:
“Minuteman PAC can play a pivotal role in his victory, just as we are in Sharron Angle’s fight to defeat Harry Reid! We’ve already fought and won in several key races, and we’re going to pick up the fight in this one too!”
“We’re going to win it,” a Miller spokesman told TPM yesterday in an interview.
The Alaska Republican source said that’s highly unlikely. For starters, Murkowski is well-liked back home, and outside groups aren’t.
Her voting record is far from liberal, the Republican said, and she voted against every major initiative proposed by the Obama administration this year. Murkowski did support the TARP bailout in 2008, but several GOPers have survived primaries for similar grounds.
Hotline on Call points out that Democratic Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams will challenge the winner of the primary on the fall ballot. They report: He is almost guaranteed to win the primary, as his only competition are the long-shot candidates Jacob Kern (D) and ’02 nominee/’92/’96/’98/’08 candidate/’94/’00/’04/’06 AK-AL candidate Frank Vondersaar (D).
Here’s that Palin robocall:
Post-Election Update: Or not. Miller is leading Murkowski by about 3,000 votes with 84% of precincts reporting. The final results won’t be known for a week or more. More here.