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Murkowski concedes, tea party gains

From msnbc.com's Vaughn Ververs:

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski has conceded in her primary battle against unknown-challenger Joe Miller in the Alaska GOP primary after a full day of absentee vote counting that left her just 199 votes closer to victory than she was a week ago.

Saying that she can no longer see "a scenario where the primary will turn out in my favor," Murkowski threw in the towel on a re-election bid that she has trailed in by 1,668 votes since the primary on August 24. The counting of absentee and questionable ballots resumed Tuesday and although Murkowski at one point reduced her deficit to 1,210, the day ended with her behind by 1,630 votes.

While the primary between Miller and Murkowski revolved around some uniquely Alaskan dynamics, the outcome further advances the national midterm picture as well. Miller will become the fifth bona fide tea party-backed Republican Senate nominee this year, joining: Rand Paul in Kentucky, Sharon Angle in Nevada, Ken Buck in Colorado and Mike Lee in Utah.

Two of those candidates defeated incumbent Republican senators (Murkowski and Utah's Bob Bennett). The other three defeated GOP establishment-backed candidates in the primaries. If you're looking for the tea party's impact on this election, the senate races this fall will be the major barometer of its success.