Some recounts are more equal than others


I know that everyone is very, very excited about another recount in a high-profile race in Minnesota, right? Right? Hello?

Of course we aren’t. The Franken-Coleman recount was a long slog of Lizard People and three-judge panels. That said, Dayton-Emmer is highly unlikely to be Franken-Coleman II: The Bloodening.

Remember, the day after the Franken-Coleman race, Coleman’s lead appeared to be about 1100. After all tabulation corrections, Franken ended up trailing by just over 200 votes. After months of recounting, Franken picked up about 550 votes, ultimately winning by 312.

As of right now, Mark Dayton leads Tom Emmer by 8,856 votes. Tabulation corrections may change that by a few hundred either way – Dayton could end up in the 9,500 range, or Emmer could end up down only about 8,000.

But after seven months of fighting, Al Franken managed to gain 550 votes. The odds that Emmer can better that by 7,500 votes are incredibly long, to the point of near impossibility. Unless there’s systemic fraud – and there isn’t – Dayton will win.

That means that the only real drama in the recount is how long Emmer digs in his heels. There is an advantage to the Republicans fighting as long as they can; if they can delay into January, Tim Pawlenty would remain governor until the recount process was completed. With the GOP takeover of the legislature, that would mean the Republicans could force through their agenda without opposition.

But while that’s got to be tempting, the truth is that Republicans would almost certainly face a massive backlash for doing so. Emmer can and should pursue an initial recount, to ensure that there aren’t 10,000 votes hiding in Bloomington. But if the GOP tries to pursue a recount simply to give them an undivided government they haven’t earned – well, they’d better enjoy that legislative majority now, because they won’t have it in two years.

Frankly, I doubt that it will get that far. The recount will happen at the end of this month. Emmer will challenge ballots, as will Dayton. But it’s hard to believe Emmer will find 9,500 ballots worth challenging, let alone the 30,000 to 40,000 he’d realistically have to challenge to gain 9,500 votes. Once that becomes apparent, the race is over; unless Emmer can find that many votes, he’ll really have no choice to drop out. Unless something really weird happens, Mark Dayton will be Minnesota’s next governor.