Sleepless in Seattle(and Washington State)

It could be a long night and week ahead in the Evergreen state as we await the results in Washington's Senate race.

Three-term incumbent and Democrat Patty Murray is in a dead heat with Republican challenger Dino Rossi, in a contest that could help decide the control of the U.S. Senate.

The latest Fox News poll finds Murray leading Rossi by 2 points- 49 to 47 percent in a poll of likely voters. Just weeks ago, Rossi was ahead by one point.

" The road to a Republican majority in the Senate comes through Washington", said Stuart Elway, a pollster with Elway research. "They are not going to get a majority without taking out Patty Murray. So even if it's close or not so close, they've got to win here."

Rossi is a former state senator and real estate investor with universal name I.D. in Washington state, having run twice for Governor but losing both times. He has run as a fiscal conservative, not seeking Tea Party support and avoiding divisive social issues.

Murray has defended her 18 years in the Senate, boasting about writing part of the health care bill and also supporting the Stimulus package and Wall Street bailout.

" I think people truly understand what's at stake in this election," Murray told supporters yesterday on the campaign trail" It's about solving our nation's problems, as big and as challenging as they are, about making sure we have Washington state's voice at the table."

Rossi has attacked Murray for being an advocate of big government and the Obama administration.

" I mean if someone would have told you two years ago, that the federal government was going to own or control car companies, banks, insurance companies, student loans, healthcare, on and on and on, you probably would have called him a conspiracy nut, said Rossi on Monday on "Fox and Friends."

" But it's all happened in 20 months. And that is the fundamental redefinition of America, and it isn't going in the right direction which is why we're finding so much support throughout the state."

One factor that makes Washington a very hard state to predict results is the fact that it doesn't have an election day per se. It's a mail-in ballot only state (with the exception of one county) and that makes it hard for pollsters to take a "snapshot" of voter preferences. Also, ballots only must be postmarked BY election day. The Secretary of State estimates that only 60% of the votes in the race will be counted on election night. Those numbers are expected to be released around 8:15 local time. With the exception of some polling numbers released from Pierce County, WA, the next set of numbers won't be out until Wednesday afternoon.

William La Jeunesse contributed to this article.