Sarah Palin to Lisa Murkowski: I can see 2022 from my house

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A fun line on a day when righties are pissed at Murkowski, but likely an idle threat.

That would be a dynamite primary. The Palins and Murkowskis do not care for each other, due in part to Sarah ending Frank Murkowski’s governorship by crushing him in the Republican primary in 2006. (Frank is Lisa’s father.) A Palin-endorsed challenger successfully primaried Lisa herself in 2010, leading to some casual sniping between them during the campaign. This is one woman who won’t quit on Alaska, Murkowski said at one point during her campaign, just a year after Palin abruptly resigned as governor. She went on to win the general election as a write-in candidate and hasn’t looked back.

Could Palin beat her? Murkowski’s not super-popular back home. Morning Consult pegged her approval rating this summer at a tepid 40/43. Palin wasn’t very popular back home at last check either, though. In 2014 Public Policy Polling measured her favorable rating at 36/55. (“Public Policy Polling is a left-wing outfit!” cry furious Palin fans. Which is true, actually.) A year later, in 2015, her *national* net favorable rating was 24 points underwater and just 27 points above water within her own party. Not normally the stuff of which successful primary challenges are made.

Plus, remember a few things.

1. As mad as people are at Murkowski for the moment, the anger will fade quickly because her vote didn’t matter. Collins, Flake, and Joe Manchin bailed her out. Activist Republicans will hold a grudge but most voters are casual about it and will take a “no harm, no foul” approach to a big vote that ended up going their side’s way.

2. Although Murkowski voted no on cloture and sounded strongly inclined earlier to vote no on the nomination itself, she hasn’t actually said yet how she’s voting. If she walked out tomorrow and said, “Susan gave an amazing speech and it convinced me to vote yes,” would anyone be surprised?

3. Memories are short — again, not among the sort of activists who care enough about politics to read blogs every day but among the wider population. Murkowski will never expunge the charges of RINOism filed against her after this morning’s vote among the GOP base, but those charges are a misdemeanor at worst now that Kavanaugh’s going to be confirmed. And she’ll probably be pardoned altogether after the next big vote where she comes through for the right. Remember, she voted with McConnell to nuke the filibuster and send Gorsuch through. She’s destined to be a key yes vote if another vacancy opens up on the Court next year and McConnell successfully confirms a nominee for that seat.

And she’s a loooong way from reelection, particularly given how quickly the news moves in the Trump era. How many news cycles do we go through on average *day* now? Three on a slow one, six on a busy one? Let’s say the average is four; there are 1,495 days until Election Day 2022. That means we have nearly six thousand “major” news stories to digest before Alaska renders a verdict on Murkowski. Joe Miller fans in the state will remember the Kavanaugh vote regardless. The other 85 percent won’t care.

In lieu of an exit question, here’s Rubio articulating the key reason why Kavanaugh fans will hold a grudge with Murkowski. How were we supposed to vote no on Kavanaugh, he asks, without *any* corroborating evidence that he assaulted anyone? How could we pronounce a man presumptively guilty of rape just to boost morale among #MeToo supporters?

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