Alaska Senate Update: Lisa Murkowski Could Win As Write-In Candidate

The Hotline reports that Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, who was defeated in the Republican primary last month by Joe Miller, will run for the Senate as a write-in candidate against Mr. Miller and the Democratic candidate, Scott McAdams.

The move is not entirely unexpected: Ms. Murkowski had not endorsed Mr. Miller, and instead had reportedly been in discussions with the Libertarian Party to appear on their ballot line. The Libertarians having refused her overtures, the only option remaining for Ms. Murkowski was to run as a write-in (Alaska, like most states, does not permit candidates to file for the ballot as independents after the party primaries have taken place).

Can Ms. Murkowski win? Sure she can. There is plenty of precedent for write-ins being elected to the Congress, although fewer have done so successfully in recent years. Meanwhile, a poll by Public Policy Polling found Ms. Murkowski getting 34 percent of the vote against Mr. Miller’s 38 percent and Mr. McAdams’ 22 percent. Private polling has also shown Ms. Murkowski running closely with Mr. Miller, according to The Hotline.

These polls must be approached with some caution. The survey from Public Policy Polling, for instance, asked voters to contemplate what they would do if Ms. Murkowski’s name appeared on the ballot as a Libertarian — rather than as a write-in.

The extent to which Ms. Murkowski, as a write-in, will sacrifice votes she otherwise might have received is unclear. Some voters might forget that she is running, or they might find it too cumbersome to fill out her name. Others might desire to do so, but might fill out their ballots incorrectly.

Read more from Nate Silver at The New York Times

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