New Poll Finds Big Trouble for Lisa Murkowski's Re-Election Bid

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, walks on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018 in Washington, as reporters ask her questions. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Sen. Lisa Murkowski has marked her own path since entering the Senate. That path has usually been to bend the knee to Democrats and try to toe lines that simply can’t be toed. Murkowski has supported Obamacare, voted against Justice Brett Kavanaugh, voted for expanded abortion access, supported amnesty and the DREAM Act, and most recently, voted to confirm Biden’s Director of the Department of the Interior, a man who had pointedly stumped for hurting the energy sector in states like Alaska. She also voted to impeach Donald Trump, a move that earned her censure.

Recently, Murkowski gained a challenger in Kelly Tshibaka, the current Alaskan Commissioner of Administration for Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy (see AK Commissioner Kelly Tshibaka Announces Her Candidacy to Challenge Lisa Murkowski). Now, with the battle lines drawn, we have our first polling of the race, and it’s not good news for the incumbent.

A Cyngal poll published on Monday found that anti-Trump Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, is not faring well on favorability in her home state.

Kelly Tshibaka, the Alaska Republican Commissioner of Administration and Murkowski’s primary challenger, scored highest in a ballot test with 33.6 percent. Murkowski came in third with almost 19 percent, losing second place to the 21 percent of respondents who are “undecided.” Almost 18 percent backed the Democratic challenger Al Gross.

Murkowski’s favorability rate, according to the poll, is 33 percent. Among Republicans alone, that rate sinks to 10 percent. Tshibaka scored a 61 percent approval rating among both Trump supporters and Republicans as a whole.

That’s quite the gap, though, it’s certainly a long way from an actual vote. Things won’t really heat up for another year on that front. Yet, it’s a good start for Tshibaka, who appears to hold wide appeal in the red state. Clearly, Murkowski’s act has grown old with many Republicans as well. What is the point of having a Senator who so routinely eschews the priorities of her constituents?

Of course, Murkowski has been primaried before, after which she went on to win a write-in campaign with the support of the greater Republican establishment. Yet, that hardly means she could do something similar again. Republican voters are far more hardened these days toward those who side with Democrats. Murkowski’s family ties have also become persuasive over time. Like Joe Manchin, I think she’s in real trouble the next time her name is on a ballot (Manchin only won by 3 points his last go around, a sharp drop in his prior margins of victory).

Hopefully, Alaskans say enough is enough. It’s one thing to be Susan Collins in a blue state. You can tolerate that given her replacement would end up being a Democrat. But it’s another thing to represent a solidly red state and still so often do the bidding of the left. It’s not the mid-2000s anymore. Republicans are tired of getting stepped on, and I suspect Murkowski may be on the outside looking in come 2022. The only question left is if Mitch McConnell will betray his party’s voters and support her over the will of the people. We’ll see.