The state of Alaska is now reporting that Ted Stevens has 118,602 votes to Mark Begich’s 117,631, a gap of 971 ballots. This incorporates 28,519 ballots which have been counted since this morning.
Prior to today, Stevens’ lead over Begich had been 3,257 votes, with the state of Alaska having reported that about 90,000 votes remained to be counted. Although some of those votes will be thrown out (such as duplicate votes when the voter both sent in an absentee ballot and came to the polling place), there are still plenty of votes remaining to be counted, and Begich is making up ground at a sufficient pace that he appears more likely than not to surpass Stevens.
A significant number of additional votes will be counted before close of business today, although approximately 8 of Alaska’s 40 house districts won’t finalize their counting process until Friday at the earliest. The areas that will report late consist mostly of rural, Begich-friendly districts (contrary to our earlier reporting, Begich performed quite well in rural Alaska; his weaknesses were in the Anchorage Suburbs and the Mat-Su Valley).