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Bennet Retakes the Lead in Colorado

When most East Coasters could no longer follow the returns from sheer exhaustion, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) had fallen behind challenger Ken Buck (R) in his Senate race, and the momentum was not leaning his way. By morning, however, he’s regained a narrow lead in the polls: With 87 percent reporting, he holds 774,410 votes to Buck’s 767,470, or a mere 6,940 vote margin.

If the margin ends up within a half a percentage point — it’s right on the cusp of that now — then state law will mandate a recount, but it may not necessarily come to that. Counties outside Denver like Boulder, which heavily favor Bennet, still have 30 percent of their vote to tally, while Arapahoe, which has thus far favored Bennet as well, has only reported 11 percent of its vote.

No race featured more outside money flowing in than Bennet v. Buck, but in the end the two sides battled largely to a draw. FEC reports show that both candidates faced a barrage of approximately $11 million of negative ads brought against them in the form of independent expenditures, making it one of the most negative races in the country. The pattern of big guns canceling each other out appeared to hold true in most Senate races from Pennsylvania to Illinois to Nevada, where Democratic Party spending was matched by GOP outside groups and the ultimate result was near parity.

*Update 11:10 a.m.: *With 88 percent of precincts reporting, Bennet has a lead of half a percent. It’s precarious — there’s an automatic recount if the margin of victory is under half a percent — but all of the ballots remaining to be counted are in four counties (Boulder, Arapahoe, Chaffee and San Miguel) where Bennet is currently leading, so it’s looking good for the incumbent.

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