Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s recent decision to run as a write-in candidate has some UAA students abuzz with contrasting analysis. Students differ over how this new development will split the vote while others offer a more general analysis.
Rasmussen conducted the first poll after Murkowski’s announcement, which showed Miller ahead with 42 percent of the vote, Murkowski with 27 percent and McAdams with 25 percent.
Many are reluctant to draw conclusions from the poll given the recent history in which polls showed Murkowski strongly ahead shortly before Miller won the primary.
The poll does beg the question: how will Murkowski’s write-in campaign change the dynamic of the race?
Senior Nick Moe predicts Murkowski’s entrance in the race will cause her and democratic nominee Scott McAdams to campaign on who is the better opponent of Joe Miller. Moe believes this will split both moderate and democratic votes.
Her entrance in the race “makes it more likely that Miller will win instead of less likely, which a lot of people are scared of,” Moe said.
Other students, like Senior Ben Anderson, are counting on Murkowski’s write-in campaign to split the Republican vote in favor of democrats. Anderson stated that he could have supported Murkowski if she had won the primary, but he now supports McAdams.
“I don’t think Murkowski has a legitimate shot of winning as a write in campaign, just because it is unlikely and she lost the primary. I wouldn’t write in Murkowski myself,” Anderson said.
There are many who believe Murkowski has a strong chance to win, even with the difficulties of a write-in campaign.
Senior Daniel McDonald predicts a Murkowski-Miller standoff.
“I really don’t think McAdams has a ghost of a chance. I think most Democrats are going to get behind Murkowski,” McDonald said. “It’s going to be just a two way race.”
This nationwide standoff between Tea Party candidates and other establishment candidates equates to a Republican civil war, McDonald stated.
UAA College Republicans felt the brunt of that conflict this summer when a Miller campaign manager called them “puppets” after the group hosted an event for Murkowski.
Although Miller has since hired a new campaign manager, tensions remain high. At their most recent meeting, a motion to endorse Miller was defeated.
Senior Ryan McKee, UAA College Republicans president, allowed the vote even after his national College Republican colleagues cautioned against endorsement.
“This comes straight from our National Board: we do not endorse, we do not take a side,” McKee said.
McKee said there was nothing to gain other than club division by endorsing either candidate. Though club members have personal candidate endorsements, they pledged to volunteer for both candidates if asked.
The Murkowski write-in campaign has more implications than just political intrigue. The race has historical significance, as Murkowski’s campaign slogan, “Let’s Make History,” points out.
Senior Miles Brookes, USUAA president, points out this election could declare a winner without a simple majority with a candidate gaining more than 50 percent. The vote has the potential of returning a 33-33-34 percent count on Election Day.
Historically, a win without simple majority is rare.
Brookes acknowledged Murkowski’s campaign has quite a bit of work ahead of it. Murkowski will need to present herself as a candidate and also educate voters on the write-in process, stated Brookes.
The campaign has provided other education as well.
“I think a lot of students now understand how the closed primary system works. If anything, at the end of the day, it’s going to be an educational lesson,” Brookes said.