Minnesota Senate Recount, Update II

An hour ago, Minnesota’s Secretary of State posted the latest data on the Senate recount. Candidly, I’m not quite sure what to make of it. The Secretary of State’s numbers indicate that 51 percent of precincts and 42 percent of total ballots have been recounted. The Secretary shows that Norm Coleman’s total votes have gone from 534,687 counted on November 4 to 534,475, while Al Franken’s votes have declined from 494,930 to 494,804. The result, based on those numbers, is a net gain of 86 votes for Franken.

This doesn’t make sense to me for two reasons. First, news accounts have suggested that the candidates are gaining votes, not losing votes. Second, I had thought that most of the early returns were from urban centers where Franken is strong, whereas these numbers obviously imply that more Coleman precincts have been recounted so far.

I’m not sure how to reconcile that, but if I understand the numbers correctly Coleman’s lead now stands at 129 votes. [For reasons I haven’t figured out yet, the Minneapolis Star Tribune calculates Coleman’s lead at 136 votes.] In short, we are heading for a photo finish.

The Coleman campaign says publicly that they are happy with how the recount is going so far:

The Coleman Campaign is very pleased that on a day when Al Franken’s advantage in the recount process should have been two or three times what it was, they fell far short of what their clear expectations for success were going to be.

In the northern part of the state, where old “Eagle” ballot machines are located, the Franken Campaign must be extremely disappointed that the results were not what they had calculated – we believe that the vote advantage they expected that didn’t materialize has created a serious dilemma for their campaign as they attempt to find ways to add more votes to the recount process.

In other words, the “big” Democrat advantage the Franken Campaign was looking for at in the first 48 hours of this recount is not the big Democrat advantage they have been telling their supporters around the country they were going to see.

At the moment, I don’t have any inside information, but if I learn anything of interest I’ll post it tomorrow.

UPDATE: A reader writes to explain the numerical discrepancy:

I am an observer on the recount.

The votes posted on SOS website are the actual votes counted and agreed to by both campaigns and don’t include the challenges. To get to the real number for Coleman add Recount Number + Coleman Votes Challenged by Franken.

Assume most challenges will be overturned, which I believe to be the case since I have personally seen 30 challenged ballots from the last 2 days in Edina (from both campaigns). Unless the canvassing board does something crazy most challenges will not hold or will hold in equal proportion. I personally started the strategy of challenging the same types of votes as the Franken observers to ensure they would be handled equally by the canvassing board. As an insurance policy.

So Norm’s number would be 534,475 +374 = 534,849 or 162 higher than Nov 4th count
Franken’s number would be 494,808 + 360 = 495,164 or 234 higher than Nov 4th count
For a net gain of 72 for Franken so far if my math holds.

That’s correct; I failed to add back the challenged ballots which are not being counted now for the time being. At the current pace, Franken would gain almost enough ground to reverse the result, but not quite enough. I believe the precincts in St. Louis County that use the machines that can fail to read light pencil marks were Franken’s best hope for a big gain.

UPDATE: More here.

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