With more than 3/4ths of the precincts counted, it looks like Franken will fall short, barring some wild turn around in how these votes are shaking out.
Still, FiveThirtyEight thinks there’s a chance…
The Star Tribune now puts Coleman’s lead at 180 votes, and the Secretary of State, 167 votes. (The Star Tribune’s tally appears to be inclusive of all of the Secretary of State figures and is probably the more authoritative estimate). Coleman’s lead had been 215 votes before the recount process began, but had become as small as 115-120 votes at other stages of the recount process.
It is unclear, however, whether the running counts provided by the Star Tribune and Secretary of State are any longer providing useful information. This is because the percentage of challenged ballots has now reached epidemic levels. Among the relatively small number of ballots added today to the Secretary of State’s nightly estimate, the Coleman campaign challenged 14.2 ballots for every 10,000 cast, and the Franken campaign 12.2 for every 10,000 cast. This rate of challenges was almost twice that observed in Friday’s counting, and 4-5 times as much as in the first two days of ballot counting on Wednesday and Thursday.
So let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that these contested ballots shake out in a pretty even fashion. That leaves Franken to contest absentee ballots that have been thrown out because they weren’t legal. And even if he can get those back into play…it’s still a long shot.
But what if this strategy worked? Franken gets previously illegal ballots back into play and it swings it for him so he barely wins. Does he really want to get into office that way? Especially when he’s basically saying that he’s the second coming of Paul Wellstone?
Sure, history is written by the winners, but Franken can regroup and challenge Coleman in the next election and probably win. And for a candidate like him, how he comes into office is actually extremely important.
Still, this thing isn’t over so I’ll keep you all updated.