Alaska Senate Races Among Those Undecided

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Some Senate races have yet to be decided. In Washington, mail-in ballots will come in over the next few weeks in the close contest between Democratic Sen. Patty Murray and GOP challenger Dino Rossi. And in Alaska, exit polls suggest "write in" won as Lisa Murkowski fights to hold the seat she lost in the Republican primary earlier this year.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Well, now to the two Senate races that are still unsettled. Although it took until this afternoon, NPR has called the Colorado Senate race for the Democrat, Michael Bennet.

But in Alaska and Washington state, we still don't have final results, as NPR's Martin Kaste reports.

MARTIN KASTE: Democrats in Washington certainly sounded like the winners last night.

(Soundbite of chanting)

KASTE: Senator Patty Murray was up by a little less than a percentage point, apparently enough for her to claim victory in the future tense.

Senator PATTY MURRAY (Democrat, Washington): We are going to win this race.

(Soundbite of applause)

KASTE: There are still hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots to process, and both Murray and her Republican challenger, Dino Rossi, already have lawyers lined up for a possible recount.

But it's the Senate race in Alaska that may generate the most billable hours for the election lawyers.

Senator LISA MURKOWSKI (Republican, Alaska): Things are just starting to percolate here in Alaska.

KASTE: That's incumbent senator, Lisa Murkowski last night. After losing the Republican primary to Tea Party favorite Joe Miller, she ran as a write-in candidate. And thus far, in the computerized ballot count, the category of write-in has a commanding lead over both the official Republican nominee and the Democrat.

Most of those write-in ballots are probably for Murkowski, since she ran ads teaching voters how to spell her name, but we won't know for sure until the state goes back and starts hand-counting the ballots next week. It's likely to be a contentious process as elections officials try to decipher voters' handwriting and interpret their misspellings.

Martin Kaste, NPR News, Seattle.

(Soundbite of music)

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

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