MN recount: Franken vs Coleman II
by Jerome Armstrong, Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 02:38:08 PM EST
Franken vs Coleman : The Recount
Here it is, starting today, ending... (you get the point). The Star Tribune is updating the re-count.Right now, I'm looking at there being 29% counted, and Coleman leads by 158 votes. Coleman has challenged 316 and Franken has challenged 211 votes. If you factor in the challenges as representing votes for the other that are questionable by the opposition, the difference could be as low as 53 votes at the moment. Some of the counties are not going to start until Dec 3rd, so this will be going on for a while.
Update [2008-11-20 19:55:24 by Todd Beeton]:I was working on a post on this as well, so I'll just throw the bulk into an update.
While I'd certainly like to see Franken's gains come more quickly, there is some reason for continued optimism. First of all, as Jerome notes, is the very fact that so many more of Franken's lost votes are due to challenges than Coleman's are. Let's say the canvassing board that rules on the challenges rejects the challenges in equal proportions, Franken would make up more votes than Coleman would and therefore could enter that phase of the recount behind Coleman but ultimately prevail.
As Franken recount lawyer Marc Elias said at a campaign briefing with reporters earlier today (h/t TPM):
"We've seen examples of challenges that are clearly non-meritorious, and will not be upheld by the canvass board." If Elias is right about that prediction, Franken could potentially gain even more votes when the board finally takes up those ballots in December.
I do agree with Nate, though, that there is some danger for Franken here as the mere appearance that a canvassing board led by a Democratic SOS "overturned the will of the people" would give Coleman ammunition to demand a second recount or even call into question the election's validity. It probably would behoove Franken to adopt a more aggressive challenge strategy.
Another reason for optimism is the fact that the votes that have been recounted so far have come more from Coleman country than from Franken country.
Again from the press conference:
Marc Elias...said that Franken has made gains despite the fact that the recounted areas so far are more Republican than the state as a whole -- which means they could potentially gain even more votes as the count moves into more pro-Franken precincts, though Elias stressed that they aren't making any direct extrapolations or projections.
As a sign of this, take the recount percentages from the Minnesota Secretary of State's website (which, by the way, hasn't been updated since last night.) It shows that Coleman has received 43.25% of the recounted votes while Franken has received just 39.99%. Compare this with the original certified count of 42% for each of them.
This is due largely to the fact that Hennepin and Ramsey Counties, MN's two most populous counties, which both went for Franken by double digit margins, still have 70% and 85% of their precincts respectively left to recount. On the other hand, Hennepin so far has not exactly been a recount goldmine for Franken, having netted him just 6 votes, although this could be due, again, to Coleman's overly aggressive challenge strategy. About a third of all of Coleman's challenges so far have come from Hennepin County.
A couple things make me think the Coleman camp are nervous about losing this thing. First is their overzealous challenge strategy and second is the overzealous spinning on the part of GOP strategist Todd Harris on Hardball today. He made (at least) two errors when trying to spin Coleman strength: 1. Franken is going to challenge more votes than Coleman because he's behind and 2. most of the votes that have been recounted have come from blue counties. Sorry, Todd, wrong on both counts. Nervous much?
Update [2008-11-20 20:2:2 by Todd Beeton]:Interesting, looks like Franken has indeed gotten a bit more aggressive with his challenges. While Coleman has challenged 317 votes, Franken has challenged 246, resulting in, so far, a net gain of 72 votes for Franken, reducing Coleman's lead to 143. But again, the number of those challenges that will ultimately be ruled valid won't be known until the canvass board meets in December.
Update [2008-11-20 21:33:3 by Jerome Armstrong]: With 46% of the recount finished, Coleman leads Franken by 136 votes, and Franken has challenged 414 and Coleman has challenged 409 ballots.