According to analyses conducted by Alaska-based media outlets, it is looking increasingly unlikely that Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) will retain his seat in the next Congress.
At the end of the night on Tuesday, GOP candidate Dan Sullivan emerged with a more than an 8,000-vote lead over Begich, but it could not be projected whether Sullivan’s 3.6-point advantage over the incumbent would hold after al of Alaska’s 21,000 plus absentee ballots were counted.
Increasingly, though, Alaskan media outlets are coming around to the view that Begich’s deficit is too great to make up in uncounted votes.
Last week, an analysis in the Alaska-based News Miner via the Alaska Public Radio Network reporter Alexandra Gutierrez determined that Sullivan and independent gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker would emerge victorious after all the votes were counted.
The analysis was reached by taking each group of absentee, early and questioned ballots and dividing them based on trends seen in already-counted absentee, early and question ballots for each district.
For example, Begich won 62.5 percent of early ballots cast in House District 1, so he’s expected to receive 46 of the 73 uncounted early votes in that district.
Conventional wisdom is that early voting will skew away from the general population that heads to the polls. Depending on who you ask, those voters will be Republican-leaning or Democratic-leaning.
That does appear to be the case at least in Fairbanks. In the same House District 1 mentioned above, Begich fared much worse in already-counted absentee ballots, earning just 37.5 percent of those ballots.
On Sunday night, an analysis published in The Juneau Empire posited that “Dan Sullivan has the ball and a two-touchdown lead over Mark Begich,” and the incumbent is unlikely to mount a comeback.
“Unless something drastically changes when the Alaska Division of Elections starts counting absentee, questioned and early ballots on Tuesday, Dan Sullivan will be the next U.S. Senator from Alaska,” The Empire’s James Brooks wrote
Begich has said he expects absentee and early voters to favor him, but if absentee balloting follows the patterns set on Election night, Sullivan will increase his lead as more votes are counted, likely by more than 2,000 votes when tallying finishes.
The problem for Begich is one of distribution — there are more remaining votes in areas that favored Sullivan than areas that favored Begich.
The deadline set by Alaska’s Davison of Elections to receive all absentee ballots is November 19, and the final tally will not be known for some time after that deadline has passed. As of today, however, it appears as though Sullivan will be the GOP’s 53rd senator in the 114th Congress.
If Sullivan emerges victorious, the GOP still has one more shot to pick up a seat in the next Senate in Louisiana where a runoff between Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) will be held on December 6.