With Harry Reid’s victory in Nevada, Democrats have kept control of the Senate. But how narrow will their majority be? As things stand now, Democrats have 49 seats, Republicans 46, and two independents who caucus with the Dems. Let’s take a look at the three outstanding Senate results:
• In Alaska, the Anchorage Daily News reports, things are looking good for incumbent Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski in her write-in bid against Tea Party-backed (and Sarah Palin-backed) attorney Joe Miller — but it’s far from over. The total write-in votes lead Miller by a margin of 41%-34%. This could now go to court over the scrutinizing of all those write-in ballots, which must be sorted to find how well the voter spelled out “Lisa Murkowski,” and determining what ranges of error are permissible:
Alaska’s computerized voting system shows how many voters filled in the oval for a write-in candidate but not the actual name the voter wrote in. The write-in ballots are only opened to look at the name if there are more of them than votes for the leading candidate, or if the number of write-in ballots is within .5 percent of the frontrunner.
That count would begin Nov. 18 and be expected to last three days. The campaigns have been getting ready for the court challenges over “voter intent” that would be expected to follow. Minor misspellings are probably OK but simply writing “Lisa M,”; for example, could be a problem.
• In Colorado, with 87% of precincts reporting, Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet leads Republican Ken Buck by less than one percentage point, with a current raw vote lead of 15,000 out of more than 1.5 million. As the Denver Post reports, both sides were predicting victory — Team Bennet on the basis of under-reported totals in Democratic areas, and the Buck campaign on the basis of uncounted votes from such sources as military ballots.
A look at the county-by-county totals gives some reason to think Bennet could eke it out. The under-reported areas now are Boulder County, which he has been winning by more than two-to-one, and Arapahoe county (Aurora and surrounding suburbs) where he has a narrow lead. But keep in mind that these large counties are not homogenous, so the margins could potentially change.
• In Washington state, Democratic Sen. Patty Murray leads Republican former state Sen. Dino Rossi by 50.5%-49.5%. As the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reveals, the numbers are only partially counted from the state’s mail-in ballot system. But some of the tea-leaves look good for Murray:
In the Democratic stronghold of King County, Murray was taking almost 62 percent of the vote and Rossi 38 percent. Many observers believed Rossi had to crack 40 percent in King County to be competitive.
The secretary of state estimated about 60 percent of the statewide vote would be tallied by Tuesday night; King County officials hoped to count about 45 percent of the ballots. There were still about 350,000 ballots left to be counted in the state’s largest county.
If King County (Seattle and surrounding suburbs) is indeed under-reported on the percentage of ballots counted, that is a good sign for the Dems.