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Franken Will Soon Overtake Coleman in Minn. Senate Race « The Washington Independent

UPDATE 6:05 PM: Norm Coleman’s official lead is now down to 5 votes.

—–

It appears that Al Franken is on his way to taking a slim lead over Sen. Norm Coleman by the end of the day or early tomorrow, as the third day of the Minnesota State Canvassing Board’s review of challenged ballots draws to a close.

Coleman’s official lead now stands at 38 votes, and it continues to shrink as more challenges are reviewed.

The board finished reviewing Franken’s challenges this morning, and Coleman’s official lead grew as most of them were rejected. Now it has begun going through Coleman’s challenges, and his lead has diminished at a faster rate than his team had hoped. About 400 Coleman challenges remain.

If Franken continues to net votes at the current rate, my very unofficial prediction is that he will end up with a lead in the high double digits.

And I’ve got some very unofficial confirmation from some very unofficial Star Tribune projections. Given the success rate of the two campaigns’ challenges, the Strib projects that Franken will come out of this process ahead by 90 votes. Readers of the Strib also judged the challenged ballots for themselves, and their average projection put Franken up by 40 votes.

Here’s a chart from the Strib showing where things stand as of 5:25 PM. As you can see, Franken’s challenges have had a much higher success rate (not a huge surprise, since he withdrew many more of his frivolous challenges):

Image has not been found. URL: /wp-content/uploads/2008/12/strib-shot.jpg

Now, if Franken falls short of the lead, he still has a very good shot at winning this election if the improperly rejected absentee ballots are counted. (The Minnesota Supreme Court is currently deciding on their fate.) These ballots are expected to benefit Franken, perhaps by about 100 votes.

Of course, no matter what the result of the canvass and the Court’s deliberation, we can expect lawsuits galore — no one’s going down without a fight.

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