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Senate Races Update: And Then There Were Three

9:45 PM, Nov 5, 2008 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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A sizable chunk of the vote in the Oregon Senate race between Republican incumbent Gordon Smith and Democratic challenger Jeff Merkley has not yet been counted, but The Oregonian is calling the race for Merkley. Though Merkley only holds a lead of 2,000 votes, most of the uncounted votes are from heavily-Democratic counties. If this projection holds up, that would give the Democrats 57 seats to the Republicans' 40.

In the three other races still up in the air, GOP incumbents are poised to hold on to their seats by razor-thin margins, and thus help sustain the Republicans' ability to filibuster.

In Alaska, Ted Stevens is leading Mark Begich by 3,353 votes, but Begich will not concede until roughly 50,000 remaining absentee and early votes have been counted. According to the Wall Street Journal, "Stevens was convicted for failing to include gifts from a businessman on his personal financial disclosures filed with the Senate. ... If he is re-elected and later resigns, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin must call for a special election. State law is unclear on whether she can appoint someone to fill the seat temporarily."

In Minnesota, Norm Coleman is leading Al Franken by 477 votes, but a recount of more than 2.8 million ballots cast is about to get under way. Ed Morrissey is fairly confident that this recount will go smoothly.

In Georgia, Republican Saxby Chambliss and Democratic challenger Jim Martin are headed to a runoff election on December 2. Yesterday, Chambliss edged out Martin by 3 points but fell just shy of winning an outright majority required to avoid a runoff.