Ted Stevens, Walking the Bridge to Nowhere

All week, pundits have been assuming that Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens miraculously survived his re-election bid. No one knew how he did it.

We're starting to get an answer: He actually didn't survive the race. Alaska is big and weird and it takes ages to count early ballots from close races, and the state counted 53,000 ballots yesterday that put Democrat Mark Begich in the lead.

Mark Begich (D) - 132,196
Ted Stevens (R) - 131,382
Bob Bird (AI) - 11,315
Fredrick Haase (Lib) - 2086
Others - 1858

Markos "Daily Kos" Moulitsas, who's been following the numbers closely, claims that the remaining ballots come from Democratic-leaning districts. Nate "538" Silver has more. If Begich even builds a 0.51 percent lead over Stevens (he's at a 0.29 percent lead now), he escapes a recount and takes over the seat. This would, among other things, close Sarah Palin's escape hatch out of Alaskan politics. It would also lock down 58 Democratic Senate seats (counting Joe Lieberman), with the Minnesota Senate race looking better for them every day. (Democrat Al Franken has gained hundreds of votes as the state recounts ballots, and the Republicans have shown their panic with lawsuits and op-eds trying to cast doubt on the count.)

UPDATE: From the Anchorage Daily News:

Republican Party of Alaska Chairman Randy Ruedrich wasn't giving up hope for Stevens, saying Begich's advantage could lessen as the state finishes counting the early votes.

He said remaining mail-in absentee votes "should be much more favorable to Republicans" than the ones counted so far.

But state Democratic Party spokeswoman Bethany Lesser said Begich workers are cautiously optimistic the lead would hold. She noted that the election district based in Nome, which covers Northern and Western Alaska, has not counted any of its absentee ballots yet. Begich beat Stevens in that area on Election Day, just as he did throughout Bush Alaska, a traditional Stevens stronghold that relies on federal appropriations.

Begich also won the voting on all four of Alaska's military installations on Election Day. That makes the Begich campaign optimistic about overseas absentee ballots from service members.

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  • JMR||

    HA-HA!!
    /Nelson Muntz

  • Kaiser||

    If I were the republicans in Minnesota I would be suspicious of the ballot count too, this could be here-say but haven't they found ballots in peoples trunks? That, and personally I just don't like Al Franken.

    As far as Ted Stevens in concerned I would like to see him win. Just for the hilarious factor, it would be priceless. To see him win, get kicked out, then Sarah Palin take his seat would just be the icing on the cake for this election cycle. Besides, it's not like we haven't elected criminals before. Americans seem to have a knack for that kind of thing.

  • jkp||

    Honestly David, why do you cite to a hack like Kos?

    Silver knows his stuff, but Kos is pretty useless.

  • Dave Weigel||

    Silver knows his stuff, but Kos is pretty useless.

    Well, not on this. Kos has actually been following the race obsessively and getting the numbers from local sources. I saw it from him before Silver because in the post-election lull I haven't checked Silver's site much.

  • ||

    I can't believe the AI party got as many votes as it did.

  • ||

    As far as Ted Stevens in concerned I would like to see him win. Just for the hilarious factor, it would be priceless

    Bingo. The egomaniacal asshole would probably refuse to resign, causing a hilarious clusterfuck of having a sitting Senator in jail and having to have Congress kick him out.

    What a wondeful three-ring circus that would be.

  • ||

    I assume that's not the artificial intelligence party, right?

  • ||

    Democrat Al Franken has gained hundreds of votes as the state recounts ballots, and the Republicans have shown their panic with lawsuits and op-eds trying to cast doubt on the count.

    Incorrect. Actually, the state has not started recounting ballots yet. From the article you linked:

    The Coleman and Franken campaigns traded shots Monday as counties completed the process of certifying their vote tallies and officials prepared to start recounting nearly 3 million ballots in the U.S. Senate race.



    What's happened is that counties have been certifying their initial results, and a lot of counties have announced that "those preliminary numbers we gave you? We actually read the numbers wrong, or forgot to carry a number when adding, etc." It seems that only 22 of 87 counties have had corrections (generally larger, more DFL-favoring counties), and that the corrections on whole have consistently favored Franken. It's true that in some counties Coleman has gained votes, but Franken has gained more in those same counties. In other counties Franken has lost votes, but Coleman has lost more in those counties.

    The actual recount will start soon.

  • ||

    From my neutral corner, it does seem like Democrats always do better after the election. Why is that?

  • Lester Hunt||

    Great, we're moving closer and closer to a pure one-party system.

  • Kaiser||

    Great, we're moving closer and closer to a pure one-party system.



    As was said on here yesterday (my apologies for being lazy and not giving a link) we are already in a one party system, half of them call themselves Democrats, the other half Republicans.

  • Buck Hardwood||

    How fitting that the dimming light of the Bush Era is lit by the slim reelection hopes of a convicted felon.

  • ||

    Bush Alaska is traditionally Democratic?

    The Artificial Intelligence Party got more than 1 vote?

    Is skynet self-aware?

    I need some coffee, wintermute.

  • Elemenope||

    I assume that's not the artificial intelligence party, right?

    Alaska Independence Party.

  • robc||

    Bingo. The egomaniacal asshole would probably refuse to resign, causing a hilarious clusterfuck of having a sitting Senator in jail and having to have Congress kick him out.

    Even better would be if the Senate Dems decided, for strategic reasons, that it is better to have a non-voting Republican senator than a voting one and refused to kick him out.

  • ||

    "Alaska Independence Party."

    Yeah, I know. I was being facetious.

  • robc||

    If Alaska is normally this slow, could you imagine if the Prez race depended on it, like Florida in 2k? "Dont worry, we will have them counted in time for the electoral college vote". Technically, that is all that is necessary, but it would be freaking people out.

  • ||

    From my neutral corner, it does seem like Democrats always do better after the election. Why is that?

    I think it's just because all the ballots that get counted late are more likely to come from Democratic voters. I mean, absentee ballots generally get counted after normal ballots, and in this election the Obama campaign did a lot of work to encourage early voting, and a lot of absentee ballots come from Democratic constituencies anyway: college students voting in their hometown and people with the kind of jobs they can't easily get time off from during the week to go vote. (I don't know about the military absentee vote, though.) And then there are the provisional ballots, any ballot cast that isn't accepted right away because of some problem, like lack of ID or a first-time voter that isn't on all the lists or something. Those also trend Democratic, also this year especially.

  • ||

    A US Senator in jail. One down 99 to go.

  • ||

    It seems that only 22 of 87 counties have had corrections (generally larger, more DFL-favoring counties), and that the corrections on whole have consistently favored Franken.

    Actually, 3 precincts out of 4100 discovered "typos" that gave Franken a net 500 vote gain. Just by coincidence, the precincts that "accidentally undercounted" his votes happen to be three of the most Democratic precincts. So there's good reason to be suspicious.

    From my neutral corner, it does seem like Democrats always do better after the election. Why is that?

    Apparently, Dem precincts/counties struggle with math?

    BUT, this is Minnesota we're talking about here, not Chicago. I have to admit I am having a hard time believing the squeaky-clean Scandihoovians are going to have a dirty recount.

    Plus, I will get to bust some major balls on my Minnesota buddies if they send Stuart Smalley to the Senate/

  • LarryA||

    How fitting that the dimming light of the Bush Era is lit by the slim reelection hopes of a convicted felon.

    And the Democrats are saying, "See? We managed to squeak by in an election against a convicted felon in a race against a hugely unpopular president in the middle of an economic disaster. Obviously all Americans have embraced the whole liberal agenda."

  • ||

    Where is joe to apologize for claiming that the GOP was stuffing ballot boxes in Alaska?

  • Elemenope||

    Where is joe to apologize for claiming that the GOP was stuffing ballot boxes in Alaska?

    You know full well that the your guy winning is no proof that the ballots weren't stuffed the other way.

    It merely shows they weren't stuffed *enough*. ;)

  • ||

    Hmm, maybe we'll get lucky and he will fall off the bridge!

    jess
    http://web-anonymity.vze.com

  • robc||

    joe is in Venezuela, right?

  • ||

    joe is in a Guatemalan plastic surgery clinic getting Mr. Garrison's balls put into his knees as part of his operation to be taller.

    "Antibiotics? In Guatemala? Forget it. They give you a rat turd with a little season salt. No. I'll do the surgery there and the painkillers here. If I did surgery. Which I didn't."

  • ||

    the fact that anyone voted for the GOP at all means voter fraud prima facie.

  • ||

    Oh Ted Stevens your
    unintended comedy
    will be sorely missed

  • economist||

    I know he's a damn crook, but I'd rather have a damn crook of the opposition party than a damn crook of the ruling party.

  • economist||

    Episiarch,
    So is joe undergoing Negroplasty?

  • economist||

    On a related note, much as I dislike Norm Coleman, I will ridicule Minnesota forever if they elect Al Franken.

  • ||

    "Antibiotics? In Guatemala? Forget it. They give you a rat turd with a little season salt. No. I'll do the surgery there and the painkillers here. If I did surgery. Which I didn't."

    "Gentlemen! I have made love...to this lawn mower!"

    "My little metal boy!"

  • ||

    I think it's just because all the ballots that get counted late are more likely to come from Democratic voters.

    Though, as mentioned, that's not what's going on in Minnesota. This doesn't have to do with counting ballots late. It has to do with claims of bad math or forgetting to add in ballots.

  • ||

    Al Franken, bah, ha, ha, that is hilarious.

    I guess it just goes to the point that some people will vote for anyone or anything if it has a certain letter behind it's name instead of a different letter, no matter how insane it might be in reality. Or are we just that stupid?

  • bill||

    Actually if Stevens won he might not get kicked out. it takes 60 votes to de-seat a Senator and the Dems only have 58. So if no Repubs cross over Stevens could serve his term in jail. LOL.

  • economist||

    Bill,
    Actually, I think it takes two-thirds of the Senate to expel a Senator.

  • Liz||

    I am so naive - this statement scares the crap out of me "and a lot of counties have announced that "those preliminary numbers we gave you? We actually read the numbers wrong, or forgot to carry a number when adding, etc." WTF?! This probably happens after every election....I am depressed, gotta make myself a drink.

  • zoltan||

    I know how Ted Stevens did it. Most voters are stupid and don't pay attention to or care about who they're clicking the button for.

  • ||

    WTF?! This probably happens after every election

    Nah, only the close ones, generally ones where Democrats need a few more votes. (See the last go round for the WA governor's race, for example.) For example, the same counties reporting better margins for Franken in this report are reporting that their original numbers were all fine in the other races.

    The Republicans presumably have their own ways of cheating, but finding new votes after the election seems to be a Democratic specialty.

  • thoreau||

    For example, the same counties reporting better margins for Franken in this report are reporting that their original numbers were all fine in the other races.

    Is that really the case? Or are they saying that their results didn't change in the other races? There's a difference.

    Reporting that Lars Lundquist is still the winner of the mayoral race in Quistville even after double-checking could just mean that after they carried the 2 he won by 1503 votes instead of 1303 votes.

  • ||

    zoltan | November 13, 2008, 1:54pm | #
    I know how Ted Stevens did it. Most voters are stupid and don't pay attention to or care about who they're clicking the button for.

    Don't misunderestimate the love for "Uncle Ted" that many Alaskans have. Hell, for most of them, Ted Stevens has been THE Senator in office. Yeah, there may be two seats but Ted's was never in doubt.

    Someone upthread asked if bush(rural) Alaska traditionally voted Democratic. This is a resounding NO (look at the Presidential votes). The bush vote was the result of hard campaigning by Begich, the air of guilt surround Stevens and most importantly the feeling that Stevens was no longer "of Alaska". Many in the bush finally realized that while his house was in Girdwood, his home was in DC.

  • Someone Who Doesn\'t Want to L||

    The Republicans presumably have their own ways of cheating, but finding new votes after the election seems to be a Democratic specialty.

    The stereotype is that Republicans cheat by preventing people who should be able to vote from voting (or by throwing out votes). The Democratic stereotype is to cheat by allowing people who shouldn't be able to vote to vote (or by adding votes). These may or may not be entirely accurate, but that's the way the "we wuz robbd!" factions of each party talk.

    Republicans complain about the dead or illegal immigrants voting and people voting multiple times. Democrats complain about thugs scaring or tricking voters away from the polls and machines throwing out or switching their votes.

  • ||

    "Great, we're moving closer and closer to a pure one-party system."

    Didn't we have one 2003 - 2006?

  • Cranefly||

    economist wrote:I will ridicule Minnesota forever if they elect Al Franken.

    Has the eternity of ridicule for Jesse Ventura expired already? My, how time flies.

  • ||

    Jesse Ventura was an entertainer who turned politician. Nothing unprecedented about that.

    Al Franken is an entertainer playing politician. He freaks me out. He's a jerk in person, he's not funny, and his claim to fame is that he looks like a parody of a talking head.

  • Zeke||

    Oh I see, Ventura actually BECAME a politician, while Franken is "playing" one.

    Lamest. Argument. Ever.

  • Ed||

    Kaiser: "If I were the republicans in Minnesota I would be suspicious of the ballot count too, this could be here-say but haven't they found ballots in peoples trunks?"

    Apparently not. The story is either a misunderstanding or made up.

    http://www.minnpost.com/davidbrauer/2008/11/12/4565/minneapolis_election_director_speaks_ballots_in_my_car_story_false

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