The contestants are set in Florida’s three-way race for the U.S. Senate and John McCain holds on to pursue a fifth term. USA/PALIN

But most of the chatter this morning is about the Alaska surprise where Joe Miller, an underdog candidate backed by Sarah Palin and the Tea Party, edged into the lead over incumbent Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski. It may take a week or more to determine the winner of the primary as rural and absentee votes are tallied. 

How Miller fares will be seen as a test of Palin’s clout in the Republican Party. She has backed a number of candidates in this primary season and her results are mixed.

The Palin-Murkowski rivalry is not new, the former Republican vice presidential candidate defeated the senator’s father, Frank Murkowski in the 2006 race for Alaska governor.

The Anchorage Daily News quoted Miller saying he was certain Palin’s endorsement was “pivotal” for his 51-49 percent lead. The newspaper also quoted Murkowski taking a shot at PalinTuesday night by saying “I think she’s out for her own self-interest. I don’t think she’s out for Alaska’s interest.”