How Much Does Joe Miller Owe Sarah Palin?

With only absentee ballots left to be counted, incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski is facing the possibility of losing the Alaska Republican Senate primary to Tea-Party-backed opponent Joe Miller. Miller leads Murkowski by a few thousand votes and if she falls, she will be the third senator in this election cycle to be ousted by a primary challenger.

At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Murkowski told reporters that she's not finished just yet. "It ain't over yet folks," she said, "There are thousands of absentees that are yet to come in."

Miller's campaign may not have gotten much traction were it not for Sarah Palin, who's been an active and often-successful endorser in this election cycle. Palin lobbied hard for Miller while snubbing Murkowski, whom she originally endorsed last year before switching her endorsement.

On Wednesday's "Washington Unplugged", "The Daily Beast" columnist Shushannah Walshe told CBS News' Kaylee Hartung that the history between Murkowski and Palin was strained long before this year.

"This is kind of a Hatfield and McCoy type of situation going on for quite a while," Walshe said, noting that Palin defeated Murkowski's father Frank in the 2006 gubernatorial primary. Hartung then turned to Republican Strategist Cheri Jacobus, who said "I don't think there's any question that the impact of Sarah Palin is still very strong."

He added, however, that "the impact of the Tea Party is clear."

"I don't think Republicans can rest easy because the Tea Party isn't around just to help the Republican Party, but to really affect policy in this country," said Jacobus. "It isn't a clear road for Republicans. They still have to work for it."

Watch Wednesday's Washington Unplugged above, also featuring "Rock the Vote" Florida Coordinator Blaire Yancey with a live report on Rick Scott's upset in the state's GOP Gubernatorial primary and Democratic Strategist Jamal Simmons on how Kendrick Meek can beat Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio in the state's Senate fight.

"Washington Unplugged," CBSNews.com's exclusive daily politics Webshow, appears live on CBSNews.com each weekday at 2:00 p.m. ET. Click here to check out previous episodes.

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