Political strategists said Sarah Palin was foolish to bet her personal prestige on Joe Miller, a relatively unknown lawyer and friend of her husband's, over Sen. Lisa Murkowski in Alaska's GOP primary. Then Miller apparently won (though uncounted absentee ballots could theoretically tip the election back to the incumbent). Did Palin just score another big win in her bitter rivalry with the Murkowskis — she unseated Murkowski's father as governor in 2006 — or will Lisa Murkowski get the last laugh? (Watch Murkowski vow to keep fighting)
Palin's the big winner: Miller's win constitutes Palin's "biggest victory" yet this campaign season, says John Dickerson in Slate. "She worked for him more than a lot of her other endorsed candidates," not least by zestily "tearing down his opponent." And whether Murkowski ultimately loses or not, "Palin has already won." Real or not, it now looks like Palin has the "magic touch," and the "Palin brand" is more formidable than ever.
"Palin's magic touch"
Don't count Murkowski out yet: Palin may have won this round, but the contest isn't over, says Shushannah Walshe in The Daily Beast. Assuming she isn't saved by absentee ballots, Murkowski is considering a Joe Lieberman-style third-party bid. Palin's backing was enough to help a Tea Party insurgent, but "in a general election, Murkowski would be hard to beat."
"Palin foe mulls third-party run"
Murkowski vs. Murkowski: This was always Murkowski's race to lose, says Chris Cillizza in The Washington Post, and she "gave away her biggest advantage: Money," by not attacking Miller, as John McCain did in his primary fight against a Tea Party challenger. Palin's endorsement may have made a difference, but it's dangerous to draw larger conclusions from a race where only a "minuscule" 100,000 people voted.
"How Lisa Murkowski (might have) lost"