Late last night Franken face a 236-vote deficit against incumbent Norm Coleman. As county registrars review their math (all of this pre-recount), adjustments continue to be made.
As of this post, the gap is now 221 votes.
According to Minnesota law, the ballots will be examined for voter intent. CW is that most spoiled ballots (not properly marked per instructions) come from inexperienced and first-time voters, or Democratic-leaning voters. We'll know in a few weeks if that's really the case. But the closer the final certified pre-recount tally, the better for Franken's chances of taking this thing.
Update: Good news:
An Associated Press analysis of the nearly 25,000-vote difference in presidential and Senate race tallies shows that most ballots lacking a recorded Minnesota Senate vote were cast in counties won by Democrat Barack Obama.
The finding could have implications for Republican Sen. Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken, who are headed for a recount separated by the thinnest of margins — a couple hundred votes, or about 0.01 percent.
Though some voters may have intentionally bypassed the race, others may have mismarked their ballot or optical scanning machines may have misread them. A recount due to begin Nov. 19 will use manual inspection to detect such ballots.
Three counties — Hennepin, Ramsey and St. Louis — account for 10,540 votes in the dropoff between the two races. Each saw Obama win with 63 percent or more.
Larry Jacobs, a University of Minnesota political science professor, said the dropoff analysis creates a "zone of uncertainty" that could become a focal point for the campaigns and election officials.
"These numbers present a roadmap for a Franken challenge," he said. "It suggests there are about 10,000 votes in the largest Democratic counties that are potentially going to tilt in Franken's direction."