"You have to be rich or weird," suggested John Hockenberry on NPR this morning, referring to last night's primaries. In Alaska's surprisingly too-close-to-call Republican Senate primary, though, a Palin endorsement and anti-choice politics seemed to tip the scales.
Tea Partier Joe Miller had been challenging incumbent Lisa Murkowski, with the help of Sarah Palin's Facebook messages and Tweets. All absentee ballots have yet to be counted, but as of this morning, he had a 3,000-vote lead, despite having been massively outspent by a candidate whose family has controlled a Senate seat for decades. Per Politico:
Not a single public poll showed Miller within striking distance of Murkowski in the weeks before the primary, and she spent more than ten times as much as he spent. However, a ballot measure requiring parental notifications for teens seeking an abortion boosted Miller by driving tens of thousands of voters to the polls in an otherwise low-turnout primary...
Although both Miller and Murkowski said they supported Measure No. 2, Murkowski is one of the few Republicans in the Senate who generally supports legislation supporting aborting [sic] rights – a point that Miller drove home in some of his last-minute advertisements.
The most recent poll was six weeks old, and as FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver tweeted, "A 6-week-old primary poll is about as useful as a 6-week-old tuna sandwich."
About that ballot measure: It requires parental notification for teenagers seeking abortions under the age of 17. Doctors must notify parents or face felony charges that could land them in prison for up to five years, and exceptions can be made if the teenage girl petitions a judge of presents "notarized statements attesting to abuse at home." Girls, ready your notaries!
In Florida, where one wealthy outsider lost (Jeff Greene, to Miami congressman Kendrick B. Meek, in the Democratic primary for Senate) and one won (Rick Scott, who beat Attorney General Bill McCollum in the Republican gubernatorial primary.) Meek will face Marco Rubio and Charlie Crist in a race that will help determine if the Democratic majority in the Senate lasts. In Arizona, John McCain beat his challenger from the right, J.D. Hayworth, and Governor Jan Brewer also prevailed, all but guaranteeing that we will benefit from their sensible takes on immigration for seasons to come.
Political Lessons From State Primaries [Takeaway/NPR]
A Palin Upset [The Daily Beast]
Voters Approve Measure Requiring Abortion Notification [ADN]
Lisa Murkowski Faces Possible Upset [Politico]
Murkowski Is Locked In A Tight Senate Race In Alaska [NYT]