Frank Kratovil (D) has been locked in a fierce battle with Andy Harris (R) for the better parts of 4 months. More than a third of a million voters went to the polls, and the two men ended up less than 1,000 votes apart. Kratovil went into today's counting of absentee votes with a slim lead of just 916

Rather than lose any of his 916 vote lead during the counting of absentees, Frank Kratovil has managed to extend it. Here's how.

So far, with ~~7~~ 8 of the counties completed their counting, Frank Kratovil has extended his lead by another 1,000 or so votes. The current total includes Anne Arundel County and Wicomico County, which isn't done, bit its current totals are reflected in that number.

It is usually impossible for a Democrat to pick up votes during absentee counting - it almost always trends to the Republican. But a few things are at play here:

- The majority of the requests came from the Eastern Shore - more than 15,000 of the 25,000 completed absentee votes came from the 8 Shore counties. That left only 9,400 from Harford, Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties.

- Rather than favor Republicans, absentee voter requests (and received ballots) were evenly split. There were 12,555 Dem completed ballots returned, as well as 12,266 Republican ballots and 3,743 other/unaffiliated.

It's not over. Depending on which two jurisdictions are left, Andy Harris has a mathematical chance of overtaking Kratovil. But given what we know, and what is reasonable to predict, I'd much rather be Frank Kratovil right now.

The graph below is what I predicted would happen once we knew where all the absentee ballots were coming from. (Really, I did, you can ask Frank's guy in Salisbury). So far, it looks good, but there's a chance he's actually under performing his Eastern Shore numbers (which should be a +2,000 margin for him) and under performing on the western shore, where he should lose about 2,000 votes of whatever lead he gained in the Shore counting. Since this +1,000 number includes one western county, he may be doing just fine.

Stupid Graph won't show. Here's the URL:

http://i402.photobucket.com/...

But maybe not. As long as Frank does no worse than a net loss of 1,000 on the western shore and does at least +1,200 on the Eastern Shore, he should be OK. You've only got to win by one.

ALSO: According to local blog TwoSentz, Frank has won Anne Arundel County absentee votes by 16. Wow. I think I hear a large woman practicing vocal scales...

AND MORE: Latest numbers, as of 5:20 p.m.

UPDATE: Frank Kartovil added another 137 votes to his margin in Worcester County.

UPDATE 2X: Using some basic math, there are fewer than 5,300 absentee votes to be counted in Harford. Add in the expected +100 margin left to be added in Wicomico when counting resumes tomorrow (there are ~700 votes to count in Wicomico still, and they should break +100 for Frank), Harris would have to win the absentees in Harford on the order of 3,200 to 2,100 to win. I just don't see that happening when he only took 56% on Tuesday and Frank took 40%. He'd need to take ~~60%~~ over 76% of Harford's absentees to win, and he has only outperformed his Election Day number in Worcester, I believe.

We still have to count provisionals, including a few hundred from UMES in Somerset, but the path to victory for Andy Harris looks almost non-existent at this point.