The Anchorage Daily News reports that challenger Mark Begich has increased his lead over embattled incumbent Ted Stevens in the as-yet unresolved Alaska Senate race:
The latest numbers, issued just before 1 p.m., show Begich up by 2,374 votes.
The state has counted over 16,000 absentee and questioned ballots so far today from Southeast Alaska, Anchorage, the Kenai Peninsula and Kodiak. Elections officials expect to count nearly 8,000 more this afternoon.
The ADN notes that the remaining 8,000 votes to be counted today are absentee ballots from Anchorage. Since Begich is the current (and popular) mayor of Anchorage, Stevens is unlikely to make up ground in the remaining part of the tally.
Today's pile of votes was the last remaining sizeable chunk of uncounted ballots. Only a few overseas votes remain to be tallied before the election's result can be finalized. And given the small margin between the contenders, a recount is a distinct possibility. But at this point Alaska seems poised to have a Democratic Senator for the first time since Mike Gravel's re-election defeat in 1980.