While the ultimate calls rest with the five-member Canvassing Board, the AP found that most of the ballots have clear intent and no deficiencies for which they would be disqualified under Minnesota law.
The AP's examination of the remaining challenges found:
--Fewer than half of the challenges left-about 1,640-are in genuine doubt. Still, that's eight times more than the current margin between the two men.
---In ballots that could easily be assigned, Franken netted 200 more votes than Coleman. But that number was essentially meaningless because Coleman has withdrawn significantly fewer challenges than Franken-that is, the pool of challenges that can be awarded to Franken at this stage is notably larger.
--Nearly 300 challenges wouldn't benefit either man because the voter clearly favored a third-party candidate or skipped the race.
--Of the challenges that can't be reliably awarded to either candidate now, more than 400 possible Franken votes are being held up because on grounds that those voters identified their ballots through write-ins, initials, signatures, phone numbers or some other distinctive marking. At least 300 possible Coleman votes are in limbo for the same reasons.
--The next biggest class of ballot that can't easily be awarded falls in the category of unclear voter intent. Nearly 600 involve cases where a voter filled in two ovals but crossed out one, put an X above or below their darkened oval or put differently sized partial marks in more than one. There are slightly more potential Franken ballots in that pile as well.
So, Franken will almost certainly take the lead after this phase of the recount. After this phase, all that is left are 1,600 absentee ballots that have yet to be counted, and which project to another Franken gain of 128 votes. While Norm Coleman is challenging these ballots in court, two Republican members of the Supreme Court were part of the unanimous canvassing board ruling to include these ballots. So, good luck with that lawsuit, Norm.
Add it all up, and Franken seems like the next Senator from Minnesota. There does not appear to be anything Coleman can do to stop that now. Franken is going to win this thing.
Wikipedia shows Obama's lead at 52.93%-45.67%, with 131,200,378 votes counted. With all states having either "final" or "certified" vote totals, the United States Election Project shows a total turnout of 131,237,136. So, while we are still dealing with a discrepancy of up to 36,758 votes, the two sources, which I take the definitive counts, have nearly merged. The final likely vote percentages will likely be 52.93%-45.67%, although changes of .01% could still take place. These totals do not include "spoiled" ballots.
Also, the Electoral College vote is today. While it is likely that the final total will be 365-173, usually at least one elector either makes a mistake or casts a protest vote. This occurred in both 2000 and 2004, for example. It is embarrassing that we still use this system.
All House elections from November 4th (or December 6th, in Louisiana) are now decided. Democrats led 257-178 after these elections, and also scored the largest popular vote victory (8.88%, according to an older count) in any congressional election since 1982. However, Obama's administration appointments have already led to at least a vacancy in Rahm Emanuel's seat (IL-05, PVI D+18). Xavier Bacerra (CA-31, PVI D+30) would be another vacany should be become trade representative. More vacancies may yet appear, most prominently as a result of the pending Secretary of the Interior pick. Also, each party seems to have a vacant seat, as House roll call votes 684-689 all show a partisan balance of 235-198. The results of the 2006 election and 2007-2008 special elections put the balance at 236-199.
So, the partisan breakdown of the House will probably be 257-178, although there are still some special elections to be had, and the House will open with some vacancies. Later in the year, the D.C. Voting Rights Act will almost certainly pass into law, thereby temporarily moving the partisan breakdown to 258-179 as both D.C. and Utah gain another member of the House.
This will probably be my final "still counting and recounting" thread for 2008. From this point forward, it will either be posts on House special elections, the final Presidential totals, the Minnesota recount, or the Illinois Senate special elections. I hope you enjoyed reading these overtime run-up threads as much as I enjoyed writing them. It is always fun to step back and see the big federal election picture all at once.