(originally published August 25th, see update below)

In a shocking upset, Joe Miller is the winner of the Alaska Senate primary if the current vote projection holds for the Republican primary election. With half of the precincts reporting, Miller holds a slight 51.8 to 48.2% lead over the GOP incumbent senator. The vote lead has been consistent during the early counting and even increased slightly as more precincts have been counted in Alaska.

joe miller
Photo: Joe Miller

Update September 1st: It took them a week longer than Right Pundits (who correctly called the winner on election night) but the mainstream media has finally declared Joe Miller GOP nominee for Senate in Alaska, and slowpoke Lisa Murkowski finally conceded.

Update 1: Turnout is extremely heavy for an off-year election. There will be twice as many voters in this primary as the presidential election year of 2010. GOP voters outnumber Democrat voters 3-1.

Update 2: Joe Miller wins Alaska primary in a political earthquake that will be discussed fully in the coming days. Right Pundits calls Miller the winner over Murkowski at 1:40am PT.

Update 3: There are about 16,000 absentee ballots that are not counted. Murkowski would need to win 60% of them to close the gap.

Update 4: With 429 of 438 precincts counted, Joe Miller is still winning 51.09% to 48.91%. 2,000 votes separate the candidates out of 90,000 cast. We expect that absentee ballots will favor Murkowski, but the gap will be too wide to close. Out of the 16,000 requested, only 8,000 were returned.

Joe Miller has been a heavy underdog in pre-election polls, trailing the senator by 20-30 points. Nobody thought this race would be close.

In fact, the mainstream media has been using the Alaska primary challenge from Miller as evidence that Sarah Palin’s endorsements are not all that useful. Palin endorsed Joe Miller several weeks ago. The press assumed that Lisa would beat Miller easily as the polls predicted, which fed a certain group-think that is comforting to liberals.

Even if the sitting senator manages to come back from the vote deficit, any victory for her will be razor thin. And that is appearing more and more unlikely as the evening progresses. In reality Palin is the most powerful voice in politics today. Her endorsements generate interest, campaign donations, grassroots support, and results at the ballot box.

The meme that Palin endorsements are irrelevant began surfacing in early August and became an oft repeated mantra by liberal television commentators in the mainstream media. If the Alaska senate results hold up for Joe Miller, the former governor of Alaska will have shut them up permanently.

Right Pundits will stay up late to give you the final Alaska primary results for Joe Miller just as soon as we can make an early call officially. We are almost there. Even as this brief piece was written, Joe Miller extended his lead slightly while more precincts in the state were counted. The winner of the Alaska primary appears to be Joe Miller, and Sarah Power will be undeniable even to her critics. We will make the call official soon, assuming it is warranted.

So what is known about Joe Miller’s biography? He has eight kids and a game wife named Kathleen Miller. He grew up in Kansas but moved west to Alaska at the age of 16. He holds a law degree and various positions of local authority in the judiciary, including that of U.S. Magistrate Judge in Fairbanks Alaska. He earned a Bronze Star for bravery in the Gulf War after graduating high in his class from West Point.

What an election result! Reader comments welcome.