Minnesota Senate race down to a handful of votes...and counting
Neck-and-neck US Senate race in Minnesota, down to a handful of votes, will require a recount.
(Page 2 of 2)
But in the first few days since the election, the tally has changed often, with Coleman’s lead of 725 at the outset shrinking and rising. At one point, Franken’s votes jumped by 100 when it was discovered that a township election official had accidentally entered 24 for Franken instead of 124.
Discovering those sorts of human errors in the next few days may offer more hope for a changed result than the recount itself. “Once the results are official, then the chances of this being overturned decline,” says Professor Jacobs. “This is not Florida or Ohio. This process doesn’t have a whole lot of error.”
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
In addition to the fluctuations until an official count is approved, says Jacabs, there will need to be a review of why some absentee ballots weren’t counted – another area that could offer hope for Franken.
Recent recounts in Minnesota haven’t change the numbers much: A recount this fall in a judicial primary ended up changing the final margin by just seven, out of about 400,000 votes cast, says Steven Schier, a political science professor at Carleton College.
Still, elections have been overturned here. In 2006, the outcome in a county attorney race changed after a recount gave the challenger an 88-vote edge. In 1962, the Minnesota governor’s race hinged on just 91 votes, out of 1.3 million cast, with a 139-day recount.
In some ways, what’s striking in this race is that it is so close. Democrat Barack Obama carried Minnesota by more than 10 percentage points, but many Obama supporters split their ballot to support Coleman or, in some cases, Independence Party candidate Dean Barkley, who got 15 percent of the vote.
Part of the problem, say critics, was Franken himself, and the treasure trove of ammunition his career as a writer and comedian gave Coleman – including a raunchy Playboy column, comments portrayed as anti-Catholic, partisan books such as “Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot,” and the discovery that he hadn’t paid taxes in a number of states.
“A lot of Democrats could have won the seat, since they wouldn’t have his baggage,” says Professor Schier. Franken’s, he says, “is an edgy, partisan, and ideological humor, and that was the problem with it.”
“He tried to be very grave, tried to get away from what he spent his lifetime doing, and that’s hard to do,” says Schier.
Meanwhile, Franken and Coleman spent more than $30 million on the race; with party committee spending factored in, the final tally may rise to more than $50 million, by far the most expensive in history.
Both candidates were criticized for their barrage of attack ads, with Franken portraying Coleman as a Bush acolyte and sleazy senator, and Coleman harping on Franken’s raunchy humor, satirical rants, and unpaid taxes.
The negativity in both campaigns turned off voters, according to the polls.