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December 22, 2008

Sarah for Senate?

If Sarah Palin wants to run for the Senate, a race against Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) in 2010 might give her a golden opportunity to win.

A newly released poll shows that Palin would trounce Murkowski if she challenged her in a primary. The poll, commissioned by the Daily Kos, shows Palin leading Murkowski by 24 points, 55 to 31 percent, in a hypothetical primary matchup.

Palin still has sky-high approval ratings in Alaska: 60 percent of respondents said they view Palin favorably, while 38 percent view her unfavorably. A 51 percent majority of Alaskans said they viewed Murkowski favorably, while 43 percent viewed her unfavorably.

Palin has given little hint of her future intentions, but she has experience taking on the Murkowski family. She was elected governor of Alaska by handily defeating Lisa Murkowski’s father, then-Gov. Frank Murkowski, in the Republican primary. The governor took criticism in the campaign for (among other things) appointing his daughter to his Senate seat when he was elected.

For her part, Lisa Murkowski is preparing for the fight. She told Politico’s Manu Raju earlier this month that Palin would face a “tough election” if she jumped in the race. And Murkowski cited her seniority and service as the ranking Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee to dissuade Palin from running.

“If she were to kind of move me over, if you will, to run for national office again at the expense at this seniority that’s been built, I don’t know if Alaskans would look too favorably on that,” Murkowski said.

The poll also tested several general election matchups, including a Senate rematch of the 2006 gubernatorial race between Palin and Democrat Tony Knowles. Palin would defeat Knowles by 14 points, 53 to 39 percent.

The poll, conducted by Research 2000, surveyed 600 likely voters between December 15-17. It has a four percent margin of error.