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It looks like Minnesota could be set for another statewide recount, just two years after the highly contentious Senate race that pitted incumbent Republican Sen. Norm Coleman against Democratic activist and former comedian Al Franken. As we all know, Franken ultimately prevailed by a 312-vote margin, reversing a similarly narrow Coleman lead at the start of the recount -- but not after an extended legal battle that delayed Franken's seating all the way into July of 2009.

As the Star Tribune reports, Democratic former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton now leads Republican state Rep. Tom Emmer by 0.43%, a raw-vote lead of about 9,000, with 20 precincts left to count. This is below a margin of 0.5%, which under state law would trigger an automatic hand recount.

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The midwest was the key to the GOP's 60-plus seat victory in the House of Representatives. Where Democrats were able to stave off losses in the west and northeast and even parts of the south, they were creamed by upwards of two dozen seats in states like Ohio, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, where the recession has taken a brutal toll.

Dems had a significant majority going in to yesterday's election, so the greatest losses were suffered by junior members. Most of them were fully expected. But when you lose this many seats, invariably some surprises get swept along with the tide.

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With Harry Reid's victory in Nevada, Democrats have kept control of the Senate. But how narrow will their majority be? As things stand now, Democrats have 49 seats, Republicans 46, and two independents who caucus with the Dems. Let's take a look at the three outstanding Senate results:

• In Alaska, the Anchorage Daily News reports, things are looking good for incumbent Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski in her write-in bid against Tea Party-backed (and Sarah Palin-backed) attorney Joe Miller -- but it's far from over. The total write-in votes lead Miller by a margin of 41%-34%. This could now go to court over the scrutinizing of all those write-in ballots, which must be sorted to find how well the voter spelled out "Lisa Murkowski," and determining what ranges of error are permissible:

Alaska's computerized voting system shows how many voters filled in the oval for a write-in candidate but not the actual name the voter wrote in. The write-in ballots are only opened to look at the name if there are more of them than votes for the leading candidate, or if the number of write-in ballots is within .5 percent of the frontrunner.

That count would begin Nov. 18 and be expected to last three days. The campaigns have been getting ready for the court challenges over "voter intent" that would be expected to follow. Minor misspellings are probably OK but simply writing "Lisa M,"; for example, could be a problem.

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Former President George W. Bush considers himself "a dissenting voice" in the decision to go to war with Iraq.

In the first interview of the publicity tour for his new book, Decision Points, Bush told Matt Lauer that he didn't want to use force.

"Not everybody thought you should go to war, though," Lauer said. "There were dissenting voices."

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Early results from the hotly-contested Alaska Senate race show "write-in" leading the results with close to 40% of the total counted. That's good news for Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R), who banked on a write-in campaign to return her to the Senate after she lost the GOP nomination to tea partier Joe Miller.

But the result is less good news for political junkies, who -- due to the rules in Alaska -- will have to wait an extremely long time to find out who actually won the race as state officials begin counting all those write-in ballots.

As the Anchorage Daily News reports, the results as they stand now mean "it won't be clear for weeks at least how many wrote in Murkowski's name, and how many did it properly enough to be counted."

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Sen. Harry Reid took the stage at his raucous victory party to thank his wife, his family and all his supporters for not giving up on him. He said his victory represented a repudiation of black-and-white ideology -- presumably represented by his opponent Sharron Angle "It's not about us versus them," he said. "It's about every Nevadan working together."

But Reid acknowledged that his victory wasn't the end of his fighting days.

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In his concession speech tonight, failed New York Governor candidate Carl Paladino resorted to his old "take a baseball bat to Albany" metaphor, by whipping out a baseball bat and saying he has a message for Democrat Andrew Cuomo: "As our Governor, you can grab this handle and bring the people with you to Albany. Or you can leave it untouched, and run the risk of having it wielded against you. Because make no mistake, you have not heard the last of Carl Paladino."

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Jon Stewart was covering the election live tonight, and he was a little surprised that Republican Sen. David Vitter "has absolutely destroyed his challenger by going out with hookers. So really what is the message we're sending America tonight? It is better, I think, to go see prostitutes than in fact to believe Social Security is a right."

Stewart was also happy for New York Governor candidate Carl Paladino: "Carl Paladino's campaign to not be elected governor has succeeded. Andrew Cuomo is the victor. Paladino, of course, tried very hard not to be Governor. He must be feeling very pleased tonight."

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With 51 Senate seats, Democrats have retained their majority in the United States Senate, setting the stage for a divided Congress that will likely define the next two years of American politics.

As it stands now, Republicans have 46 seats in the Senate, and Democrats have 51. Senate races in Colorado, Washington and Alaska are still up in the air. The new Senate breakdown is at least 49 Democrats, 46 Republicans and 2 Independents who caucus with the Dems.

The new Senate, when sworn in January, will be missing some big names observers have been used to hearing, including Arlen Specter (D-PA), Evan Bayh (D-IN), Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Bob Bennett (R-UT) and Jim Bunning (R-KY), all of whom either retired or were defeated by primary opponents.

In the end, Democrats lost President Obama's old Senate seat but kept Vice President Biden's. Losing Senators like Russ Feingold (WI) and Blanche Lincoln (AR) will change the dynamics for the party caucus quite a bit. But Democrats can hang their hats on caucus leader Harry Reid's win in his home state of Nevada, a race that no one thought he had locked up.

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In most election years, the fact that Harry Reid beat a far right political naif like Sharron Angle wouldn't be big news. But this year its among the biggest and happiest for Democrats all night.

With both MSNBC and Fox calling the race in Reid's favor by shortly after 12:30 a.m. ET, Reid was beating Angle 51 percent to 44 percent with less than half the precincts reporting and the results trending in his favor.

Reid was not supposed to win this election. His approval ratings are terrible in Nevada, where unemployment and foreclosure rates are among the highest in the country. And as the face of the Senate Democrats, his constituents rightly hold him accountable for unpopular Democratic policies that have been unable to prevent economic depression in his state.

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