The XX Factor

Murkowski’s Win Means More Headlines for Her Rival

With more than 100,000 write-in votes, Lisa Murkowski’s finally been declared the winner over Tea Partier Joe Miller in the Alaska Senate race. The prevailing post-game storyline seems to be that she was able to grab Democrat and Independent votes not (just) because she’s been so reliably good at bringing home all-important federal dollars, but because Alaskans don’t like Sarah Palin, who’s got a longstanding feud with Murkowski (Murkowski’s father Frank passed over Palin in order to appoint his daughter to an open Senate seat a few years back, and then Palin beat the pater in the ‘06 gubernatorial race), and so backed Miller. It stood out all the more because Murkowski was one of the few GOP women Palin didn’t support; from the NYT ‘s big new Palin profile : “Though several of her male endorsees also wound up defeating women, Palin has nonetheless emerged from the midterm cycle as America’s most visible advocate of female candidates not named Murkowski.” The two have done a bit of clawing, for sure. In a polished Katie Couric interview ( brilliantly undermining choice of bullhor n …), Murkowski referred to Palin’s lack of intellectual curiosity. As the always funny and smart Gail Collins puts it in her column , people care about the race nationally because “these developments make the Senate results in Alaska important for those Americans who find sunshine in any day that goes badly for the former Republican vice presidential candidate.”

I wonder, though, if all the coverage of Palin is a cloud marring what should have been Murkowski’s big sunshiney day. Yes, she won, her rival lost … but the media seems more preoccupied with what it means for Sarah, not what it says about Lisa. And so what if it isn’t positive coverage for Palin? She seems a living embodiment of the “no publicity is bad publicity” saw. You don’t need to wait for sunny days if you’ve managed to get a whole world revolving around you.