The latest official tally shows Norm Coleman with a 192 vote lead in Minnesota’s senate race. Yet, Marc Elias began the Franken campaign’s latest conference call by announcing that they are still ahead by four votes according to their unnofficial counting methodology (which I explained here).
But the real news was that the Franken campaign is withdrawing another 425 ballot challenges in addition to the 633 they withdrew last week. I don’t exactly know what the strategy here is, except to say that both sides hedged their bets by challenging an inordinate number of ballots and both have been withdrawing these challenges as the recounting has finished up (Coleman’s campaign withdrew 650 ballot challenges last week). Whether this is done because each side feels confident that they have the vote margins needed or they’re simply admitting that they made some baseless challenges is hard to tell.
However, the Franken campaign is not so confident of winning that they’re still howling about their Ponce de Leon like quest to find the missing 133 ballots that may have cost Franken 46 votes. The Franken campaign did praise local election official for their efforts here, but the longer this search goes on the less likely those ballots are to turn up.
Still, the state canvassing board won’t rule on the ballot challenges until December 16 and the margins are still narrow. Last week, after attending a Franken press conference I wrote “The bottom line is that as of now the odds remain in Coleman’s favor, but outcome of the recount is still far from decided.” Well, everything is still in a holding pattern and it appears that’s still the case.