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In one of the biggest political upsets this year, conservative lawyer Joe Miller toppled incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski in Alaska's GOP primary. Though Murkowski conceded defeat to the Sarah Palin endorsed candidate, she quickly flipped the script, launching a quixotic write-in campaign to keep her Senate seat. The initial reactions to her divisive move weren't kind, but moderate Republicans jumped on board and Murkowski's campaign became symbolic of the larger in-fighting between the GOP establishment and the Tea Party. The latest wave of polling now shows Murkowski "deadlocked" with Joe Miller, and ahead of Democrat Scott McAdams. Pundits are giving a second (or third or fourth) look at the possibility of the Alaskan Senator reclaiming her seat.

  • 'Don't Count Her Out Yet' observes Jay Newton-Small at Time. "Miller's candidacy has provoked panic in the state and local employees' unions, including the firefighter, police and teachers' associations, and all of Alaska's native tribes," he figures. And while Murkowski would be the first candidate to win a write-in bid since Strom Thurmond in 1954, "She hails from a state known for voting with its wallet, and that wallet has been thin of late."
  • Polling This Race Will Be Difficult explains blogger Allahpundit at Hot Air. "Polls of this race are tricky twice over, once because Alaska is notoriously difficult to gauge and twice because the nature of Murkowski’s candidacy poses a dilemma for the pollster. Do you do it the way Scott Rasmussen does it, offering respondents a choice between Miller and McAdams to reflect the choices on the ballot and letting them volunteer Murkowski’s name instead? Or do you name all three candidates and ask if respondents will be 'writing in' Murkowski?"
  • The Whole Process Takes Tremendous Voter Education finds The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza who quotes Jean Craciun from Alaska-based Craciun Research. "You cannot entirely compensate for a write-in candidate and that's why the margin is significant in this case," Craciun told the Post. "We know the intent of voters at this point -- and more than 40% of Alaskans polled are with Lisa. Now it will be Lisa's job to teach Alaskans how to show their intent on Election Day."
  • One Big Caveat Politico's Andy Barr hedges, "While the polls are good news for Murkowski, neither survey was able to gauge the likelihood that voters will indeed write in Murkowski’s name on the ballot—or if they will be able to correctly do so in order for their vote to be counted." Still, she,"appears to be pulling enough Republicans away from Miller and Democrats from McAdams to make it a race."
  • Let's Look at the Upside writes pollster Nate Silver at The New York Times: "As we had noted earlier, it is probably the case that polls that treat write-in bids as though they are conventional ones overestimate their support — but it is very difficult to say how large the effect is."
  • Miller Has the Edge even though the most recent polls show that the incumbent has "essentially" pulled even, The American Spectator's Philip Klein isn't quite sure she can eke out a win: "One would have to think that Murkowski's name not being on the ballot will cost her a lot of votes, thus I'd still be inclined to give Miller the edge unless polls start to show Murkowski with a big lead."
  • It's Over Already declares blogger Ian Lazaran at Conservatives 4 Palin. "If Murkowski cannot get ahead of Miller even when pollsters include her name as an option, there's no way she'll ever be able to pull ahead as her name will not appear on the ballot in reality. Murkowski had previously effectively claimed that she would take the lead if her name was included in polling but her claims were proven false....So even under the most favorable poll that Murkowski could have asked for, she's still trailing Joe Miller."

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