UPDATE, 9:20 a.m. MST: The Denver Post is calling it for Democrat Michael Bennet. The latest tally has Bennet ahead by 7,500 votes, which is a margin of just 0.4 percent. But the remaining votes to be counted are from largely blue areas, which indicates that Bennet will likely pull ahead and avoid a recount.
The campaigns of Republican Ken Buck and Democrat Michael Bennet both turned in for the night on Tuesday with the Colorado race left uncalled. With 87 percent of the state’s precincts reporting this morning, Bennet was ahead by less than one percentage point—fewer than 7,000 votes out of 1.4 million in the state—which means it could be a few days, possibly weeks, before a winner is officially declared.
Both campaigns said they expected to prevail. The Buck campaign told the fans gathered at the election night party in Greenwood Village, Colo. that they were waiting for all votes to be counted, but were confident. “I guarantee we will have a new U.S. senator—Ken Buck,” state GOP state chair Dick Wadhams told the small crowd that remained after midnight. The Buck campaign is expecting to benefit from military and other mail-in ballots.
Bennet’s campaign was equally confident: “This race is very close, but we believe that when every single vote is counted Michael will come out on top,” said Bennet spokesman Trevor Kincaid. The Democrat’s campaign pointed to uncounted votes in some of the state’s blue areas.
Both candidates declined to give a speech Tuesday night, with up to 100,000 votes still uncounted. If the difference is less than one-half of a percentage point, state law here requires a recount.
The Alaska Senate race might also take some time to resolve. As of last night, write-in candidates had claimed 40 percent of the vote—with most of those expected to be for Lisa Murkowski, the Republican incumbent who made an outside bid to keep her seat. Tea-party backed candidate Joe Miller had 35 percent, while Democrat Scott McAdams had 24 percent.
Murkowski indicated on Tuesday night that she expected to prevail in her write-in bid, which would mark the first time a write-in candidate has won since 1954, when Strom Thurmond won in South Carolina’s senate race. “We are in the process of making history,” Murkowski told CNN. And, despite some harsh words exchanged with her Republican colleagues in the course of this election, she said she intends to continue caucusing with them. “I am not my party’s nominee, but I am a Republican,” she said. “I caucused with the Republicans and I intend to continue.”