Residents in several states were still waiting for election results on Wednesday as Senate races and a handful of gubernatorial races remained extraordinarily close and seemed destined for contested vote counts that could drag on for weeks. Other results squeaked in.
It could take weeks before a winner is named in Alaska's Senate race because of Sen. Lisa Murkowski's write-in candidacy. With 99 percent of precincts reporting early Wednesday, write-ins had 41 percent of the vote.
Tea party favorite Joe Miller, who beat Murkowski for the GOP nomination in August, received 34 percent. But the write-in count speaks only to total ballots cast for write-ins — not to names written on them. Murkowski was one of 160 write-in candidates in the race that featured former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's vigilant support of Miller.
"And so we wait," Miller said in a Twitter post after polls closed.
Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet declared victory Wednesday over tea party Republican Ken Buck. The Colorado race attracted more out-of-state campaign money than any other Senate contest. With 97 percent of ballots counted Wednesday, Bennet led by about 15,400 votes. Buck conceded with a message on his Facebook page: "While the final margin in the race is very small, Colorado voters have spoken."
Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, the incumbent, expanded her lead over Republican challenger Dino Rossi on Wednesday. With about two-thirds of the ballots counted, Murray led Rossi with about 51 percent to 49 percent of the vote. Washington votes almost entirely by mail, and it can take days to tally the ballots.
Democrat Mark Dayton and Republican Tom Emmer were in a too-close-to-call race for governor that stirred memories of the state's bitterly contested 2008 U.S. Senate election. With election returns in from all but 19 precincts statewide, Dayton led by 9,257 votes out of more than 1.8 million cast. That's within the margin that triggers an automatic recount under state law.
The gubernatorial election between Democrat Peter Shumlin and Republican Brian Dubie seemed headed for the Legislature to decide the winner. No candidate had at least 50 percent Wednesday morning, but Dubie conceded to Shumlin's 3,000-vote lead. He had said he wouldn't pursue election in the Legislature if he was clearly behind in the popular vote.
Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican challenger Bill Brady were stuck in limbo Wednesday as the Illinois governor's race dragged on. Brady said he is willing to wait as long as a month for official results after all the votes are counted to see whether he can overcome Quinn's slim lead of about 16,000 votes.
Democrat John Kitzhaber whittled down a slim lead by Republican Chris Dudley as the last ballots were counted Wednesday night in the race for governor. Fighting off a challenge by former NBA player Dudley and a vote difference in the thousands, Kitzhaber scored a historic third term as governor, seven years after his previous stint in office. The candidates spent a combined $15 million on the race.