In Alaska, Stevens-Begich Race is Far From Over
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Nate Silver on the phantom ballots of Alaska:
Stevens currently holds a lead of 3,353 votes, or about 1.5 percent of the votes tallied so far. But, there are quite a large number of ballots yet to count. According to Roll Call, these include "at least 40,000 absentee ballot[s], 9,000 early voting ballots, and an undetermined number of questionable ballots". Indeed, it seems possible that the number of "questionable" ballots could be quite high. So far, about 220,000 votes have been processed in Alaska. This compares with 313,000 votes cast in 2004. After adding back in the roughly 50,000 absentee and early ballots that Roll Call accounts for, that would get us to 270,000 ballots, or about a 14 percent drop from 2004. It seems unlikely that turnout would drop by 14 percent in Alaska given the presence of both a high-profile senate race and Sarah Palin at the top of the ticket.
But even if Begich were to make up ground and win a narrow victory, this would seem to represent a catastrophic failure of polling, as three polls conducted following the guilty verdict in Stevens' corruption trial had Begich leading by margins of 7, 8 and 22 points, respectively.
I agree with Scott Horton, the more likely explanation is that someone has simply "lost track" of a good chunk of the Alaska vote.