Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Franken Fading?

After the first few days of counting, my assumptions were playing out. Candidate Franken was picking up votes in redder districts, with the bluer ones to come. This could only bode well from Team Franken, right? Not so fast:
Are the piles of recounted ballots from red counties, where Republican Sen. Norm Colman might be expected to pick up a few stray votes? Or blue counties, where DFL challenger Al Franken might have the advantage?

But Minneapolis — the biggest, bluest pile of all — is turning that logic on its head. With nearly half of its ballots recounted, the city Franken calls home isn't doing the candidate any favors. And that could be dimming Franken's hopes of catching Coleman before the state canvassing board meets Dec. 16.

"Things are clearly moving in the wrong direction for Franken," said Larry Jacobs, director of the University of Minnesota's Center for the Study of Politics and Governance.

With fewer than half of the ballots counted in Minneapolis, Franken has lost 86 votes, while Coleman has lost just 37. In other words, the city could be blunting any recount advantage Franken might have in the rest of the state as the recount rolls toward its Dec. 5 deadline.
My theory was that for Team Franken to have any real chance, they needed to have gains in higher density precincts, and that trend isn't playing out.

That is the bad news.

The good news is, based on a recount reports I received last night, was that Franken observers where challenging ballots based on the rule of law, regardless of who the ballot was cast for, whereas Coleman challengers first rule of challenge was it had to be a vote for Franken before they would even consider a challenge. And then they would analyze the ballot, both front and back, for even the slightest smudge to claim 'distinguishable mark' and have it placed in the challenge pile. So where virtually all Coleman Ballot challenges will go for Team Franken, a significantly lower percentage of Team Franken challenges will go to Coleman.

The other point made in the conversation, was that there was a clear attitude difference between the two camps. The Franken Folks were upbeat, yet professional, while the Coleman Camp was distressed and moody. Part of that was attributed to the significantly lower number of volunteers and more specifically legal guidance for the Coleman volunteers. Where there were several volunteer attorney's to ease the load from Franken concerns, there was only one for Colman, and this individual was constantly bouncing from table to table, in some cases holding up the count while Coleman representatives waited for guidance. I can clearly see how this would create a level of stress and frustration. It is also why my correspondent felt that Coleman's challenges were erring on the side of caution, creating a pile that will go for Franken at a much higher percent then Franken's for Coleman.

Still, bottom line, I am not as optimistic as I once was for Franken's chances. But maybe that is part of Coleman's plan all along, to drive challenges as high as possible, regardless of how frivolous, to create an aurora of momentum for his candidate and keep him in the lead before the canvassing board meets. That way they can claim victory once again, and blame the canvassing board for overturning the election, rather than acknowledging it is simply the way the people voted.

Only time will tell.


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