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THE SENATE….Lots of very, very close senate races this cycle. Alaskans, almost unbelievably, appear to have returned convicted felon Ted Stevens to office, but only by a few thousand votes. I guess that could still change, though. Swillmeister Saxby Chambliss seems to have won reelection in Georgia by 100,000 votes or so. Oregon is still too close to call, but incumbent Gordon Smith is currently ahead by about 15,000 votes.

And then there’s Minnesota, where Al Franken and Norm Coleman are within a thousand votes of each other with nearly all votes counted. Via email, here is Franken’s statement:

Let me be clear: Our goal is to ensure that every vote is properly counted.

The process, dictated by our laws, will be orderly, fair, and will take place within a matter of days. We won’t know for a little while who won this race, but at the end of the day, we will know that the voice of the electorate was clearly heard.

There is reason to believe that the recount could change the vote tallies significantly.

Our office and the Obama campaign have received reports of irregularities at various precincts around the state. For instance, some polling places in Minneapolis ran out of registration materials. Our team has been working on those issues for several hours already, and they will continue to do so this morning as the recount process begins.

Let me be clear: This race is too close to call, and we do not yet know who won. We are lucky enough to live in a state with built-in protections to ensure that in close elections like these, the will of the people is accurately reflected in the outcome.

I guess it’s going to take a few days to know whether Democrats picked up more than five seats. Keep your seat belts buckled.

UPDATE: This is actually a weird repeat of what happened in 2004. This year, all the Dem pickups have been in states where they won by big margins (seven points or more). Conversely, all the close races look like they’re going to be won by Republicans, with the possible exception of Minnesota. The same thing happened four years ago, when Republicans won all the close senate races but one (Colorado). Weird. What’s the deal with Dems and close senate contests?

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