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AK-Sen: Ted Stevens Indicted

Senior Alaska Senator Ted Stevens was indicted today on charges of making false statements to a federal grand jury.

Does the indictment “virtually guarantee” a Democratic pickup in Alaska, as Talking Points Memo suggest?

No, but it’s fairly close. Alaska had already been changed from toss-up to “leans Begich”, and one cannot imagine that the indictment will help Stevens’ numbers in the polls. More likely, however, Stevens will either step aside or be defeated in the Republican Primary.

Against Vic Vickers, a wealthy jack-of-all-trades entrepreneur who has never held elected office but is prepared to do a significant amount of self-financing, our regression model suggests that Mark Begich would be favored by somewhere between 10-15 points, depending on how much money Vickers is willing to put into the race.

EDIT: This assumes that a more credible Republican wouldn’t enter the race. Governor Sarah Palin is a rising star and still might win it, but she is mired in a scandal of her own and, as the mother of five children including a six-month-old with Down syndrome, might prefer to stay in Juneau rather than move her family to Washington. Republican Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell is already in the midst of a primary challenge — attempting to unseat incumbent Dan Young in Alaska’s at-large House seat.

EDIT (2): As a commenter notes, Alaska’s filing deadline has passed, so the only way that someone like Parnell or Palin gets involved is if the candidate who wins the primary then decides to drop out of the race.

Nate Silver founded and was the editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight.