Takeaways from the elections of Liz Cheney, Sarah Palin and Lisa Murkowski

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Fourteen years after Republicans nominated Sarah Palin to succeed Dick Cheney as vice president, Palin has attempted a political comeback in her home state of Alaska, while Cheney’s daughter, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) Was ousted in a crushing rebuke by her Wyoming state home.

While the results in Alaska are still being counted and will take days or weeks, here are some early takeaways from Tuesday’s election in those two states.

1. A dismal performance for pro-impeachment Republicans

We knew on Tuesday that Cheney was probably finished in the Republican primary in Wyoming. Cheney cemented her status as Donald Trump’s most prominent GOP critic, a stance she took even though her state delivered 70% of its votes to Trump in 2020 — her widest margin in the nation. Cheney owned his criticism of Trump despite losing his job as the No. 3 House Republican leader and jeopardizing his political career as a result.

In the end, it wasn’t even close. The latest results show she trailed Trump-backed Harriet Hageman by a margin of 66% to 29%, with 99% of the expected votes counted.

It was the most lopsided loss for any of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump. And it underscored the high risk each of the impeachment supporters took with their vote.

Of the 10 who voted for impeachment, four chose not to seek re-election. And of the six who ran again, only two qualified for the general election — both via unusual top-two primary systems in California and Washington state. In states with a traditional partisan primary, impeachment supporters lost, averaging just 34% of the vote and losing an average of 23 points.

Cheney is the second to lose by more than 2-1, after Rep. Tom Rice (RS.C.), but his margin of loss was the biggest. (Rice lost more than 27 points.) And turnout in Wyoming was very high, suggesting voters were very keen to send a message to Cheney.

It is unusual for four members to lose a primary in an election cycle for any reason – other than having their constituencies significantly redrawn during redistricting and/or facing another incumbent – ​​which clearly shows how much this vote has cost the members who expressed it.

Some Republicans survived the vote to remove Trump from office – a list that could include someone else on the ballot Tuesday – but the overriding message of the 2022 primaries is that running through Trump is a recipe for career sacrifice. politics in today’s GOP. And with Trump’s increasing legal scrutiny, it’s a timely message for the former president.

Even as Cheney’s political career drew to a close — at least for now — the only Senate Republican who voted to convict Trump during his impeachment trial and sought re-election in 2022 seemed like the his could be saved.

As expected, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) was one of four candidates to qualify for the ranked general election alongside Trump-backed Kelly Tshibaka. And notably, Murkowski actually held a narrow lead – something that, if sustained, will bode well for his chances of survival in November.

With 68% of the expected votes counted in the Alaska Senate primary, Murkowski led Tshibaka 44-40%.

A large portion of the votes have not yet been counted, which will take some time, but it stands to reason that the first votes counted would be more favorable to Tshibaka than the others, since the Election Day votes are counted. first and that Trump-backed candidates tend to do better with them. Murkowski appeared to rally Democratic support, with the top Democratic voter, Patricia Chesbro, garnering just 6% of the vote – suggesting Murkowski will likely be the overwhelming majority of Democrats’ first choice in November.

Pollsters sought to simulate Alaska’s new ranked choice system in a general election involving Murkowski, Tshibaka and Chesbro, and it showed Murkowski gaining ground in the general election. A July poll showed Murkowski trailing eight in the initial game, but beating Tshibaka by four points once the race is narrowed to two candidates, as it will be in the complex state process.

At the same time, that poll showed Chesbro to be more of a contender, at 17% — which, with Tuesday’s results so far, suggests that Murkowski may already have solidified Democratic support to a large extent; she might not earn that much by November. But if she continues to show a lead after the primary, that would be a very good sign.

If Murkowski survived, she would join Reps. David G. Valadao (R-Calif.) and Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) in voting against Trump on impeachment and surviving in 2022. But each of them will have survived in states with unusual processes intended to favor more moderate candidates — an important caveat regarding how the GOP proceeds with Trump.

3. Palin’s comeback attempt is on the line

Another prominent Republican from Alaska who was trying to return found himself facing a very uncertain future.

With two-thirds of the expected votes counted in the special election for the House seat of late Congressman Don Young (R-Alaska), the former Alaska governor and GOP running mate , Palin, surprisingly trailed a Democrat, Mary Peltola, 38 percent to 32 percent. The other leading Republican, Nick Begich, was at 29%.

Where it goes from here, no one knows. But Peltola far exceeded the primary results in June, in which she won just 10% of the vote. She appeared to benefit from independent/Democrat-aligned Al Gross’ decision to drop out of the race after the primary, making it a three-candidate contest with two Republicans and one Democrat. But even taking that into account, Peltola’s performance is solid.

The question from here is what it means when the ranked choice votes are counted – a complex process that could take two weeks. It all comes down to voters’ second choice Begich is likely to benefit from being many voters’ second choice for Peltola and Palin, given that Palin has appealed more to the extremes of the GOP. But Peltola could benefit from being Begich voters’ second choice, given those voters opted out of the well-known big name of Palin.

It is far too early to tell. But it doesn’t seem out of the question that Peltola could win. As it stands, she is expected to take less than half of Begich’s second-choice voters. Of course, that would mean that among voters who ranked a Republican first, a significant number should have chosen a Democrat over a Republican as their second choice. And Begich trails Palin by just three points, meaning he could plausibly shoot from third to first. Many first-choice votes have yet to be cast, which means the situation could change significantly.

All three candidates will also advance to elections in November for full terms. Tuesday’s primary results for this election were similar.

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