Joe Miller is the presumptive Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Alaska. The Palin-backed, Tea Party favorite holds a slim lead of 2,000 votes over incumbent GOP Senator Lisa Murkowski. The result shows that all politics is local. It also shows that the GOP may have a big problem on their hands.
The meta-narrative this year has been that incumbents are in trouble. Of course, the vast majority of incumbents, and their cousins – the “establishment candidates” – have won their races. Sen. John McCain did not lose Tuesday. Sen. Michael Bennet held on in Colorado a fortnight ago. Many senators and congressmen and women did not face opposition. It is true that some prominent incumbents have lost. Sen. Bennett of Utah did lose his party’s nomination. The “establishment candidate” in the Florida governor’s race lost to a self-funded newcomer. Congresswoman Carolyn Kilpatrick lost her bid for another term, but it was her son’s prison term that seems to have done her in, not an anti-incumbent tsunami. So, while it is true that incumbents like Murkowski might have sailed to re-election in a normal year and are now making retirement plans, many incumbents will survive in November.