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Franken's Lead Down To Double Digits

If you can't get enough of the seemingly-never-ending Minnesota Senate battle, here's a number to feast on: 48. That's (roughly) the number of votes Democrat Al Franken will lead incumbent Republican Norm Coleman by at the end of the day, according to the Star-Tribune.

Roughly 2.9 million ballots were cast in the race.

Franken led by a slightly healthier 251 votes at the end of last week, but the state Canvassing Board is today awarding votes from ballots that the candidates had initially challenged but later decided to let go unchallenged; when the dust settles, according to a draft list out Monday, Franken's lead will be down to the double digits. (Before Friday, Franken hadn't held a lead at all.)

Not that you can take too much from all that. As the Star-Tribune notes, "disputes over absentee ballots, claims that other votes were counted twice and a number of still-unresolved ballot challenges could change the margin yet again in an election that shows no sign of being settled soon."

The Associated Press, which says the race likely won't be decided before the new Congress is sworn in January 6th, notes that the Coleman camp's could get a 49 vote swing in its favor if it is successful in disputing the allocation of some challenged ballots. The Franken camp, meanwhile, would get 43 votes if the board agrees with its characterization of some errors in the count. The board has scheduled a meeting for January 5th, and it says its work could spill into the following day.

The Coleman campaign emailed a statement to Hotsheet late yesterday dismissing Franken's lead as "artificial."

"The fact that over 100 votes have been double-counted, overwhelmingly benefiting Al Franken, simply underscores the fact that their lead is not real," it read. "Along with seeking a remedy to that problem tomorrow at the Supreme Court, there are still over a thousand rejected absentee ballots that remain outstanding. So while the Secretary Of State's spreadsheet shows an artificial lead for the Franken campaign, it is based on votes that do not exist -- in essence votes that have been counted twice. Additionally, we are still reconciling our numbers with the spreadsheet and we have already identified some discrepancies."

"We have no doubt that when these issues are properly resolved, Senator Coleman will be re-elected to the Senate," they added.

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