All of the United States Senate races have already been decided as of 01:00 (CST) 5 November 2008. Only one race remains to be decided: Minnesota.
Incumbent Republican Senator Norm Coleman won his seat in 2002 when he defeated the Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) candidate, Walter Mondale, for that office. The then incumbent and man who was running against him, Paul Wellstone, had died in an airplane crash in northern Minnesota during the campaign. Mondale was chosen by the DFL to run in Wellstone's place. Governor Jesse Ventura appointed fellow independent Dean Barkley to serve out Senator Wellstone's term until January 2003 when Coleman took office.
Fast forward to 2008. Al Franken, who made his name as a comedian on Saturday Night Live during the early 1980s and who had basically made his career outside of his native Minnesota since then, decided to run for the Senate as a candidate of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. He succeeded in defeating other Democratic hopefuls for the candidacy, and ran against the incumbent, Norm Coleman, attempting to link him to George Bush and his less than stellar record at every opportunity. Senator Coleman has run on his experience, both as Senator in the last six years and his previous experience as mayor of the city of Saint Paul in the 1990s.
This race has been made a lot more interesting by Dean Barkley, who has run as a candidate of the Independence Party, one of the few viable third parties in the United States. He had been polling in the high teens during the campaign and is now sitting with approximately 15% of the vote. At 1:15 in the morning, with 92% of the precincts reporting, Coleman appears to be leading in the race by approximately 1,800 votes out of 2,000,000 cast (according to WCCO, the CBS affiliate in the Twin Cities). Looking at the Star Tribune coverage, with 93% of the precincts reporting, both major candidates have 42% with Barkley trailing with 15%. Franken trails Coleman by 5,000 votes.
The votes still missing from the tally come from the city of Duluth, a DFL stronghold, suburban areas of Hennepin County, a Republican stronghold, and the city of Eveleth, the home of the late Governor Rudy Perpich, and also a DFL stronghold. According to updated results at 01:30 at the Star Tribune, there are less than 500 votes separating the major candidates.
There is more to this story than a mere close race. Senator Coleman appears to be in some kind of hot water over a scandal involving his wife, and there has been some speculation at WCCO that other problems may force Senator Coleman to resign his seat if he wins.
In addition, there is the issue of the control of the United States Senate. A Franken victory will possibly give the Democratic Party filibuster-proof control of the upper house in the United States Congress.
At 1:50 in the morning (CST) the race is still undetermined, but acording to WCCO, people at the Coleman campaign claim that the incumbent has a 3,500 vote cushion with the city of Duluth (a pro-DFL area) accounted for.
So, now we'll see.