Alaska Polling results

Republican Senate candidate Dan Sullivan is seen through balloons as he takes part in a television interview on election night, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Anchorage Alaska. | AP PhotoWith 97 percent of precincts reporting, Sullivan, had received 49 percent of the vote.

Reelection hopes for Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) sagged early Wednesday morning as he trailed his Republican rival by about 9, 000 votes.

With 97 percent of precincts reporting, Begich’s Republican challenger, Dan Sullivan, had received 49 percent of the vote, according to The Associated Press. Begich had received 45 percent of the votes.

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The AP has not projected a winner.

Begich faced off against Sullivan, the state’s former attorney general and director of natural resources. A vulnerable Democrat in a red state, Begich faced a tough reelection slog, in a midterm environment that strongly favored the GOP.

Campaign spending from outside the state flooded into the state, led by the liberal super PAC Put Alaska First, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Republican Sen. John McCain carried Alaska by almost 22 percentage points in 2008. Nonetheless, the same year Begich, a former mayor of Anchorage, unseated GOP Sen. Ted Stevens, who had just been convicted in an ethics case that was later thrown out. Obama lost by a narrower but still large margin, 14 points, to Mitt Romney in 2012.

The Begich-Sullivan campaign included some hostile attack ads, including one from the Begich team that was eventually retracted in September amid a public outcry. The ad attempted to portray Sullivan as soft on crime during his tenure as the state’s attorney general. Republicans criticized the retracted Begich ad as tantamount to the famous Willie Horton ad of 1988, and believed Begich’s decision to air the ad and then pull it helped the GOP’s chances.

That episode was seen as a rare lapse for Begich, who was credited with running a top-notch campaign. Some of his other TV ads were produced by Mark Putnam, a former team Obama media consultant who has made some of this year’s most memorable ads for Democrats nationally.

Heading into Election Day, Begich appeared to be in a stronger position than any of the other red-state Democrats running for reelection, though polling is notoriously difficult in The Last Frontier.

In the Alaska governor’s race, independent Bill Walker, a one-time Republican on a fusion ticket with the former Democratic nominee, had a 1-point lead over GOP Gov. Sean Parnell, 48 percent to 47 percent.

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