One of the closest races of this election cycle comes from California, where Democratic incumbent Jerry McNerney, a former netroots-endorsed candidate who rode the Democratic wave to victory over Richard Pombo in 2006, was locked in a neck-and-neck struggle with GOP challenger David Harmer in the struggle to represent CA-11, a swing district in Northern California.
Harmer led McNerney for most of election night, but the Democratic areas were the last to return their counts. By the time all the precincts were counted on election night, McNerney emerged with a lead of 123 votes out of nearly 173,000 cast. For the mathematically inclined, that's .07%.
Naturally, Harmer claimed that he couldn't possibly have lost, so the election must have been stolen. From an email he sent to his supporters:
As the votes were counted last night, we quickly jumped to a 3% lead and held it for most of the evening. As the number of precincts reporting increased, our lead gradually decreased, but we maintained it all through the night. As of 4:09 a.m. Pacific time, with 99% of the precincts reporting, we led by 23 votes (Harmer 81,762; McNerney 81,739).
Then, in the "preliminary final count," the incumbent suddenly jumped ahead (McNerney 82,124; Harmer 82,003).
If that sounds suspicious, it is. We have reason for serious concern about the integrity of the count and the security of the ballots in some areas. And many absentee and provisional ballots remain to be counted.
We insist that every legally-cast ballot be accurately and properly counted. Getting that done is going to be a battle. We may not know the result for days.
Those absentee and provisional ballots have since not proven favorable to Harmer, as he now trails by a larger margin of over 400 votes.
And he's not the only Republican claiming that he can't possibly have lost legitimately. Ed Martin, who according to preliminary results lost to Russ Carnahan in Missouri's Third District by over 4,400 votes, is not conceding and is demanding an investigation:
Martin said Wednesday he'll send a formal request to Carnahan's sister, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, asking her to investigate possible voter fraud in St. Louis.
Ed Martin can't possibly have lost, see. The black people in Saint Louis City must have cheated!