08/25/2010 07:24 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Palin-Endorsed Joe Miller Beating Alaska's Lisa Murkowski

At the headquarters of U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski long past midnight Tuesday and into Wednesday morning, aides pored over precinct election reports as the senator sat on a green couch with her family and staff.

The race between incumbent Republican Murkowski and Tea Party Express backed Joe Miller -- the race most pollsters had called out as an easy win for Murkowski only days before -- had turned into a knock-down fight looking to stretch out longer than expected.

And Murkowski was, through the evening and late into the night, the one on the losing side. The last reports put her down almost 3,000 votes with about 80 percent of the precincts reporting.

Former Gov. Sarah Palin backed Miller against Murkowski, who she's ridiculed off and on over the years. Palin especially didn't like that Lisa Murkowski's father, Frank, appointed Lisa to his U.S. Senate seat after he was elected Alaska governor in 2002.

Lisa Murkowski's staff held out hope that some of the precincts still to report, including many in rural Alaska, could swing the win her way. Murkowski herself was just trying to stay calm.

"I've decided the best thing is to stay out of the computer room, because the results don't come in any quicker when you're in there looking over everybody's shoulder," she said Tuesday night.

At Election Central in downtown Anchorage, Miller appeared early in the evening surrounded by supporters. He stayed until after midnight and chatted casually with well-wishers, many of whom wanted a photograph with him.

Miller attributed his strong showing to a last-minute surge fueled by an influx of money that helped him spread his message across television air waves. That message "has been the same consistent message from day one," he added; it was a warning that the federal government is on the verge of bankruptcy and new leadership is needed.

For the latest updates on the Miller-Murkowski race, visit

Subscribe to the Politics email.
How will Trump’s administration impact you?