Road To 60: Not Dead Yet
by Todd Beeton, Sat Nov 08, 2008 at 01:31:24 PM EST
As you know, we still have three Senate races yet to be determined, one of which, GA-Sen, will be decided in a run-off on December 2nd and the other two, MN-Sen & AK-Sen, in which the votes are still being counted. If all three races break the Democrats' way AND Joe Lieberman remains in the Dem caucus -- granted, that's a lot of "If's", we will indeed secure the magic 60 votes in the Senate.
Here are some updates on where the races stand including some reasons for hope for Begich and Franken.
AK-Sen: Mark Begich is currently behind Sen. Ted Stevens by 3,257 votes (link.) According to Nate Silver, there are as many as 75,000 ballots yet to be counted including 9,500 early votes, more than 50,000 vote by mail absentee votes and about 18,000 "questioned" ballots. The good news for Begich, according to Nate, is that so far Begich has won about 60% of the early vote. Nate concludes that if the remaining early votes break for Begich by the same margin and if you give Begich just 53% of the outstanding absentee ballots (which are, after all, just early votes that were mailed in) Begich would net over 6,000 votes, more than enough to win the race. The big question mark here is how those absentee ballots are going to go.
Consider another method. If you look at the current CNN vote tally, you see it is behind the Alaska Board of Elections tally by 582 votes, which went to Begich over Stevens 339-243. Let's say for the sake of argument that this updated tally was a representative sample of how the count from here on in will proceed (Begich winning 58% of outstanding votes cast for the two major party candidates.) In this case, it will take just under 20,000 votes for Begich to catch up to Stevens (out of a total 75,000 votes that have yet to be counted.)
MN-Sen: If you've been following the slow Minnesota Senate vote count, you know that Franken has closed to within 221 votes of Norm Coleman (link) even before an automatic recount is set to begin. Franken has cut Coleman's lead in half since Thursday. Without a sense of how many votes are still yet to be counted, it's hard to tell whether we can expect this trend to continue but there may be some reason for optimism when it comes to the upcoming inevitable recount.
As you probably know, Coleman has already declared victory and essentially called on Franken to concede. Now, as Josh Marshall puts it, Coleman is becoming increasingly "squirrelly," shouting "voter fraud!"having tried (and failed) to stop the count of absentee ballots and assembling a legal team on the ground worthy of Florida in 2000.
Why? While the Coleman team has tried to create an aura of inevitability by asserting that a recount is unlikely to yield a shift in votes since they have an optical scan system and not a punch card system, that's not actually an accurate analysis of what's likely to happen in a recount at all. First of all, as John Chait reminds us, recounts of optical scan ballots actually produce a high percentage of new votes because the intent of the voter is often clearly discernible in the under- (and even over-) votes. Not only that but The AP tells us why Coleman should indeed be afraid, very afraid, of what that recount might unearth:
An Associated Press analysis of the nearly 25,000-vote difference in Minnesota presidential and U.S. Senate race tallies shows that most ballots lacking a recorded Senate vote were cast in counties won by Democrat Barack Obama. [...]
Ballots that showed a presidential vote but no Senate vote are called the "undervote." Statewide, more than 18,000 of those ballots came from counties won by Obama with more than half the vote. About 6,100 were in counties won by Republican John McCain with at least 50 percent.
There's one more critical statistic: About 8,900 people weren't recorded as voting for president, according to county-by-county turnout estimates kept by the Secretary of State's Office.
That nearly 9,000 people would skip the closely watched race is questionable, raising the possibility that as many as 33,700 ballots might be subject to change in a hand recount.
I like those odds and Coleman's actions of late seem to indicate that he doesn't.
GA-Sen: And as for Jim Martin's attempt to unseat Saxby Chambliss in the Dec. 2nd run-off, while a final result has yet to be certified, the run-off campaign is engaged. Martin is already up on the air with an ad that casts him as Barack Obama's partner in change and Freedom's Watch is spending half a million dollars to attack Martin. In addition, according to one source, Team Obama is aiding Martin in a more concrete and direct way:
...president-elect Barack Obama has reportedly dispatched all of his Ohio staffers to the Peach State to help Democrat Jim Martin knock off incumbent GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss.
"We're setting up our entire field team again," said one emboldened Obama staffer in Ohio. "I'm coming to Georgia and bringing several hundred of my friends with me."
...and looks like Chambliss will be getting some support from the vanquished winner of Georgia's EVs:
John McCain will be campaigning for Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) in the all-but-assured runoff against Democrat Jim Martin next month, according to Chambliss' campaign.
Chambliss spokeswoman Michelle Grasso said that McCain has committed to campaign for his Senate colleague, though no date has yet been scheduled.
All three candidates need our continued support, so please give them some love at our Road To 60 ActBlue page.