As discussed in a report last month at Smart Politics, Alaska Republican U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski won reelection in 2016 by a comfortable margin, but failed to garner the support of a majority of voters.
Due in part to Libertarian Joe Miller’s history-making performance, Senator Murkowski won with only 44.3 percent of the vote in a six-candidate field — the least support among the 34 men and women elected to the chamber this cycle.
Murkowski won by 14.7 points with Miller garnering the largest support ever for a Libertarian U.S. Senate nominee at 29.4 percent.
This marks the third consecutive cycle in which Murkowski won election to the Senate with a majority of voters backing another candidate — a feat never before achieved in U.S. history.
Smart Politics reviewed the nearly 1,900 U.S. Senate contests conducted during the direct election era and found that Lisa Murkowski is the first senator to win a seat to the chamber with a mere plurality of the vote three times.
Through the 2016 cycle, there have been 174 plurality winners since direct elections began more than a century ago (including U.S. Senate preference votes in those states that held such contests before the passage of the 17th Amendment in 1913).
Of these 174 members, Senator Murkowski is the only one to have earned a seat at the ballot box without the backing of a majority of voters three times.
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