Murkowski was hurt by her assertion in a debate that the Constitution put no limits on Congress's ability to make laws. She won votes from Alaska insiders and Alaska Natives for supporting spending on local programs, but not as many as local pundits expected.
The key votes against Labor in Australia and against Murkowski were cast in fast-growing areas -- in semitropical Queensland in Australia, in the Matanuska and Susitna Valley (including Sarah Palin's Wasilla) in Alaska.
We see there what we saw in the Massachusetts special Senate election in the suburban rings around Boston that depend on the private sector rather than government and universities: a massive repudiation of the liberal policies of what New York Times columnist David Brooks calls "the educated class."
And we did not see any sign in Australia or Alaska that the cultural issue card can trumping other issues. Australia's Abbott was supposed to be unelectable because of his opposition to abortion; turns out that wasn't a problem. In Alaska, a ballot proposal putting restrictions on abortion brought out voters for whom Murkowski's pro-choice stance was a liability.
The results in Australia and Alaska are congruent with developments elsewhere in the Anglosphere. The British coalition government headed by David Cameron since the election in May is getting wide approval for its 25 percent cuts in most departments' spending. The Canadian government headed by Conservative Stephen Harper seems firmly in power in a country that has long seemed well to the left of the United States.
"The educated class" in Sydney, Melbourne and Washington, at a loss to understand this, is furiously denouncing fellow citizens as bigots. That makes no more sense, and wins no more votes, than blaming Capt. Cook.