Race of the Day: Begich vs. Sullivan in Alaska

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, speaks at an event at his campaign headquarters on Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. A rift developed Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014, between Alaska's two U.S. senators when lawyers for Republican Lisa Murkowski demanded the campaign for Begich, her Democratic counterpart, pull ads that touts their cooperation in Washington for the benefit of Alaskans. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)
U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, speaks at an event at his campaign headquarters on Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. A rift developed Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014, between Alaska's two U.S. senators when lawyers for Republican Lisa Murkowski demanded the campaign for Begich, her Democratic counterpart, pull ads that touts their cooperation in Washington for the benefit of Alaskans. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)Becky Bohrer / AP

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Editor's Note: There are just 70 days until Election Day, and the NBC News political unit each day will profile the most competitive races this midterm season. First up: The Alaska Senate race.

The Senate contest between Sen. Mark Begich (D) and former Bush administration official Dan Sullivan (R) could very well be the most unpredictable Senate race of the cycle. On the one hand, Begich has run a strong race (see this ad as an example), and he has seized upon the fact that Sullivan, who served as the state’s Natural Resources commissioner, isn't an Alaska native. On the other hand, Begich barely won in 2008 (48%-47%), and Mitt Romney won the state in 2012, 55%-41%. There are two third-party candidates, so ultimate winner doesn't need to crack 50%. Given that there are fewer than 500,000 registered voters, the per-voter cost of all the TV ads airing -- especially from outside groups -- might be the most expensive we’ve ever seen. And given the 1:00 am ET poll closing time for the state, we won’t know the result until VERY late in the night. It might be the last race to call of the night.

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