Mystery, Alaska

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 25 2010 2:13 AM

Mystery, Alaska

OK you're wondering how Joe Miller, a lawyer who has never won an election, is currently leading Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, in a primary she seemed to have in the bag. Didn't Murkowksi have all of the money? Weren't Miller's rallies pretty listless affairs?

Yes, but since at best Murkowski is going to win closer than any polls suggested, here are two things that affected the race. The first: The Tea Party Express threw around $500,000 into the campaign on Miller's behalf. That's huge money in Alaska. Second: Measure 2, a parental consent ballot initiative, brought out pro-life voters who have never trusted Murkowski. Sarah Palin's early endorsement also handed Miller credibility and media attention which, in a GOP primary, was more important than Palin's increasing unpopularity in the state.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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