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The West Coast Waiting Game

We could be in for a West Coast waiting game to get a sense of which party controls the Senate -- and have little clarity for days after Election Day.

In Alaska, the expected swarm of write-in votes for Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) means it could be weeks before anyone knows the winner of the three-way Senate race. If the number of write-in votes exceeds that of the two major-party candidates, there will be little clarity on who prevailed -- and the process of sifting through all the write-in ballots is expected to be time-consuming.

Most votes in Washington state are cast through the mail, and those received after the day of the election won't get counted until after Election Day. That means a close Senate race between Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Republican Dino Rossi may not be decided for days. Washington Secretary of State David Ammons told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that he only expects about 60 percent of the ballots to be counted on Election Day.

And a campaign strategist for Republican California Senate hopeful Carly Fiorina said that she's anticipating about two million absentee ballots turned in today that won't be counted tonight, far more than the expected margin in the California gubernatorial and Senate contests.

If Republicans sweep toss-up races in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Nevada and Colorado, control of the Senate will likely be decided with those Pacific Coast contests - and could take days to resolve. What will be a long Election Night could easily get extended into an Election Week...

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