Webb, Allen Race Too Close to Call

By Timothy Dwyer
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 8, 2006; 2:30 AM

Democratic challenger James H. Webb and Republican incumbent George F. Allen were locked in a dead heat in the race to represent Virginia in the U.S. Senate. The race remains too close to call and appears headed for a recount.

At 2 a.m., according to unofficial results tallied by the state of Virginia, Webb had a lead of 4,745 votes over Allen. With 2,433 out of 2,443 precincts reporting Webb had 1,162,004 votes and Allen had 1,157,259 votes.

The race may be decided by absentee ballots. More than 130,000 absentee ballots were requested in the state and some of those votes were still being counted early this morning.

Just after 1 a.m., Webb claimed victory. "The votes are in and we won," he told his supporters. Webb had appeared before his supportes about two hours earlier and predicted he would win.

"We've been following this in great detail," Webb said, "It looks very, very good for our side." He said he expected to pick up votes in the 11th Congressional District in Northern Virginia and that his campaign was confident that he'd do very well when the absentee ballots were counted.

"It's going to take a while, but at some point soon, I think we are going to be on top," Webb said.

Allen spoke to his supporters just after 12:30 a.m. and told them that the outcome of the election would not be known until later today. He said some precincts in the state had shut down for the night and would resumed counting votes after the sun comes up.

"This has been an interesting election and the election continues," Allen said. "I know the counting will continue through the night and on through tomorrow."

The ban on same-sex marriage won approval by a substantial margin. With 87.3 percent of the precincts reporting, the amendment had the support of 58.4 percent of voters.

Exit polls conducted for the Associated Press found that Allen drew strong support from religious voters, those who served in the armed forces and from voters who said terrorism was extremely important. Webb was favored by traditional Democratic voting blocs such as women and blacks and by those who believe the Iraq war is an important issue.

The exit polls also showed that the majority of voters disapproved of the war in Iraq and that the U.S. should withdraw some or all troops. Of those voters, the majority favored Webb. Webb also was supported by those who said the war in Iraq was extremely important in their choice for Senate.

The majority of voters said in exit polls that they disapproved of the way President Bush is running the country, and of those, eight of 10 voted for Webb. Four out of 10 voters said Bush was not a factor in how they voted, and the majority of those chose Allen.

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