- The Washington Times - Friday, November 7, 2008

RALEIGH, N.C. | President-elect Barack Obama won North Carolina on Thursday, a symbolic triumph that underscored his political strength as he turned nine states that President Bush won in 2004 to Democratic blue.

The Associated Press declared Mr. Obama the winner after canvassing counties in North Carolina to determine the number of outstanding provisional ballots. That survey found that there are not enough remaining ballots for Republican John McCain to close a 13,693-vote deficit.

North Carolina’s 15 electoral votes brings Mr. Obama’s total to 364 - nearly 100 more than necessary to win the White House - to Mr. McCain’s 162. Missouri is the only state that remains too close to call, with Mr. McCain leading by several thousand votes.

Mr. Obama’s win in North Carolina was the first for a Democratic presidential candidate since Jimmy Carter won the state in 1976.

In congressional races too close to call on Tuesday:

• Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley has ousted Republican Sen. Gordon H. Smith, a victory once considered unlikely against an incumbent who had highlighted his efforts to work across the aisle in hopes of surviving a wave of anti-Republican sentiment.

A year ago, most observers doubted that Mr. Merkley could defeat the better-funded Mr. Smith. Mr. Merkley turned the race in his direction with millions of dollars from national Democrats and a campaign blitz that took him to 100 communities around the state.

Mr. Merkley told crowds that Mr. Smith was a Bush Republican who was more interested in bailing out Wall Street than helping people on Main Street. He’s the first Oregonian to oust an incumbent senator since Republican Bob Packwood ousted Democratic Sen. Wayne Morse in 1968.

• Minnesota Republican Sen. Norm Coleman was ahead of Democrat Al Franken by 337 votes Thursday afternoon. The final tally won’t be certified until Nov. 18, and an automatic recount is expected.

• Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, who a jury found guilty of seven felonies last week, has a narrow edge over Democrat Mark Begich. Mr. Stevens is appealing the verdict. More than 50,000 votes are to be counted and the outcome isn’t expected to be known for another week.

• Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann defended her Minnesota seat with 46.4 percent of the vote. Her opponent, Democrat Elwyn Tinklenberg, received 43.4 percent of the votes.

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