Monday, November 10, 2008

Franken edges closer in Minnesota

By Michael J.W. Stickings

The Minnesota Senate race, now in its post-election, pre-recount phase, is nothing if not intriguing.

I wrote yesterday evening that Coleman's margin over Franken had narrowed to just 239. Well, it's now down to 204, according to the Star Tribune (via Chait) -- though CNN has it at 209 (with five extra votes for Coleman). The CNN figure is newer, updated just minutes ago.

So: 209. Which is truly remarkable... Wait, it's down to 204 now. (Seriously, the numbers just moved.)

Which is truly remarkable, given that almost 2.9 million votes were cast (or have been counted so far), including 437,389 for independent candidate (and Ventura supporter) Dean Barkley. As of right now -- 12:17 pm ET -- the totals are as follows:

-- Coleman: 1,211,560
-- Franken: 1,211,356

UPDATE (3:15 pm): The margin is now 206. Coleman has picked up four votes, Franken two. (Again, CNN has the latest numbers here.)

For more, make sure to read Nate Silver's latest take (a fascinating, if extremely wonky, analysis of recounts and error rates).

Basically, Franken has a fairly good shot to win the recount if, as is probable, the undervotes (which occur "when the machine is unable to record a vote for any candidate in that race") turn out to have come disproportionately from so-called "vulnerable voters" (whom Nate defines here as "minorities, elderly voters, low-income and low-education voters, and first-time voters"), given his strength among such voters (other than the elderly, who "split their votes almost exactly evenly between Franken and Coleman").

Stay tuned.

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