Trump-endorsed Kelly Tshibaka was projected this week to defeat by a narrow margin 21-year incumbent and pro-impeachment Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).
According to FiveThirtyEight’s simulation of the race, Tshibaka is projected to defeat Murkowski 52 in 100 times. The model supports polling showing Tshibaka has a slight edge over the incumbent.
Any projection in favor of Tshibaka is notable considering Murkowski is a mainstay in the Washington, DC, uniparty. The projection is only by a few points, and the race will likely be decided by less than three percent of the total vote.
One of the challenges Tshibaka faces is the state’s newly instituted ranked-choice voting system, which ultimately affords Democrat voters the opportunity to vote for Murkowski on the second and third ballots. A recent video exposed a Murkowski aide who said the 2020 ballot initiative to decide whether to institute ranked-choice voting in Alaska was pushed by people who “wanted Lisa to get re-elected.”
Not all circumstances favor Murkowski. Tshibaka has a strong chance to upset Murkowski, whose father gave her the seat 21 years ago.
Tshibaka has gained three endorsements from candidates who have dropped out of the race, an important factor amid the ranked-choice voting system. Coalesced support behind Tshibaka means fewer votes may slip away to Murkowski in the balloting process.
Tshibaka has also thrived on in-state fundraising. While Murkowski has raised 85 percent of 2022 cycle donations from outside the state of Alaska, Tshibaka is winning the battle among Alaskan donors by about $20,000, a notable feat against a politician who has been in office for 21 years.
In total, Murkowski has raised 85 percent of her money from outside state donors. Just 15 percent ($929,774) has been donated from in-state contributors, according to OpenSecrets.
Murkowski’s deficit of in-state fundraising is likely a result of her alliance with Democrats in Washington, DC. Over the last two years, she has voted nine times with Democrats, including votes to spend massive amounts of taxpayer dollars that fueled inflation. She also voted to impeach former President Donald Trump in 2021 and has proven herself to be pro-abortion in a pro-life red state.
In addition, Murkowski has pledged to work with the Biden administration if she is reelected. “I’m working with them to advance things,” she said in reference to Biden’s massive federal spending packages, including the Biden administration’s inflation-fueling infrastructure bill.
The pledge is not surprising. Murkowski has voted to confirm many of President Joe Biden’s secretary nominations, such as Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, who has led the assault on Alaska’s energy producers with two dozen executive actions, endangering thousands of energy jobs in the process.
“We knew before the vote that Interior Secretary Deb Haaland would be against our jobs, that she was out to get our jobs, and she hasn’t disappointed on that front,” Matt Coday, president of the Oil & Gas Workers Association, said last week at the Energy Summit hosted by Tshibaka.
“And for Lisa Murkowski, for her to cast the tie-breaking vote to advance her confirmation, it’s really a slap in the face of every American who works in this industry,” he added.
Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø. He is the author of Politics of Slave Morality.