Alaska election results: Murkowski takes the lead in narrow-ranked general election

Alaska’s Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski has taken the lead over Republican challenger Kelly Tshibaka in the Senate ranking contest that won’t be decided until at least next week.

As of Saturday morning, Murkowski leads Tshibaka by less than 2,000 first-choice votes, with no candidate in the race claiming an outright majority that would end the election. Murkowski has 112,519 votes, 43.3% of the total vote share, and Tshibaka has 110,861 votes, 42.7%.

The deadline for receiving the absentee ballot was Friday 18 November and the collection of second choice votes is scheduled to begin on Wednesday 23 November.

Under Alaska’s ranked voting system, voters must list the four candidates who emerged from a jungle primary, in order of who they want to win. If no candidate receives a majority of the first votes on election day, the counting proceeds to a second round in which the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. People who voted for that candidate will have their votes redistributed to their second choice. Counting continues until two candidates remain and whoever has the most votes wins.

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Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, gives a thumbs up before entering the Senate to vote on a procedural vote on federal legislation protecting same-sex marriages Wednesday, November 16, 2022, at the US Capitol in Washington.  direct current

Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, gives a thumbs up before entering the Senate to vote on a procedural vote on federal legislation protecting same-sex marriages Wednesday, November 16, 2022, at the US Capitol in Washington. direct current
(Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Republican nominee for the United States Senate Kelly Tshibaka joins other Alaskan Republicans at a Get Out The Vote event hosted by the Alaska Republican Party November 6, 2022 in Anchorage, Alaska.

Republican nominee for the United States Senate Kelly Tshibaka joins other Alaskan Republicans at a Get Out The Vote event hosted by the Alaska Republican Party November 6, 2022 in Anchorage, Alaska.
(Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Based on known results, Republican Buzz Kelley is eliminated in the first round with less than 3% of the total vote. Democratic candidate Patricia Chesbro currently has just 10.4% of the vote and will be next to be eliminated. There are 34,358 votes between these candidates, which are reallocated to voters’ second-choice candidates.

Given that Murkowski is a centrist Republican, she seems more likely to benefit from the 26,974 votes Chesbro received than Tshibaka, who was backed by former President Trump.

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In the news that she overtook Tshibaka’s first-election lead on Friday, Murkowski’s campaign tweeted a GIF from the movie The Usual Suspects, in which she mocked her Republican challenger.

“And just like that… Kelly’s claim that she only lost by ranking vote was gone,” reads the text overlaid on the GIF.

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Murkowski, an incumbent, served in the Senate for 20 years before her father, Frank Murkowski, who was a senator from 1981 to 2002 when he resigned to become governor of Alaska. She was appointed to the Senate by her father and won the election herself.

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) asks questions during a hearing of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions in Washington, DC September 30, 2021.

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) asks questions during a hearing of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions in Washington, DC September 30, 2021.
(Greg Nash/Pool via REUTERS)

Murkowski, a Republican, moderate, and staunch ally of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has angered her party’s conservative faction for decades but has proven resilient to potential challengers. In 2010, she lost the Republican Senate primary to Tea Party candidate Joe Miller, but won that election as a candidate. She faced Miller again in 2016 running as the Libertarian candidate, defeating him by a 44.4% to 29.2% margin.

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Murkowski, who is not a fan of Donald Trump, voted to impeach the former president, prompting a Trump-backed challenge from Tshibaka, who previously served as commissioner of the Alaska Department of Administration.

Tshibaka has accused Murkowski of voting to advance President Biden’s agenda by confirming his nominees for administrative authority and championing more conservative populist issues such as rejecting critical race theory and sexual orientation and gender identity education in schools.

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