This morning, I spoke with the Lady Logician about the recount. LL brought up a great point that’s worth repeating: Scott County’s recount doesn’t start until Dec. 3. According to the Lady Logician, Scott is the reddest county in Minnesota. There’s no doubt but that that’s accurate. This big news. Team Franken is still trailing by 210 votes with 77% of ballots recounted.

What’s worse for Franken is that there’s practically no chance that he’ll gain on Coleman in Scott County because he didn’t get enough votes there. According the Strib, the Coleman campaign has challenged 1,535 ballots, Team Franken has challenged 1,501 ballots. Here’s what they’re reporting:

More than 78 percent of the votes had been recounted as of Monday night, and Republican Sen. Norm Coleman’s advantage over DFLer Al Franken stood at 210, according to a Star Tribune compilation of results reported to the secretary of state and gathered by the newspaper. Before the recount, Coleman led Franken by 215 votes out of about 2.9 million cast, a margin that has fluctuated over the past week.

After all the hype, after all the apocalyptic predictions by nationally known journalists, Al Franken has gained 5 votes on Sen. Coleman since the hand recount began. Big deal. It’s time that the national media took a deep breath and did their research on what’s happening here before making such apocalyptic predictions.

Having seen the system in action, it’s just very difficult for me to worry about the recount portion of this fight. That doesn’t mean I think that it’s nothing but smooth sailing for Sen. Coleman, though I wish that would be the case. I don’t doubt that Team Franken will do everything possible to steal this election. Nothing in his character suggests anything but that.

Frankly, I don’t see Franken catching Sen. Coleman before this recount ends. The only chances that I see Franken having of being sworn in as senator is if Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats ignoring the results of the initial vote, the machine recount and the manual recount or having a court rule that the rejected absentee ballots must be re-examined.

The Pi-Press agrees with me that time’s running out on team Franken:

As Minnesota’s recount in the U.S. Senate race marches on, campaign operatives have focused on the color of the ballots being counted.

Are the piles of recounted ballots from red counties, where Republican Sen. Norm Colman might be expected to pick up a few stray votes? Or blue counties, where DFL challenger Al Franken might have the advantage?

But Minneapolis, the biggest, bluest pile of all, is turning that logic on its head. With nearly half of its ballots recounted, the city Franken calls home isn’t doing the candidate any favors. And that could be dimming Franken’s hopes of catching Coleman before the state canvassing board meets Dec. 16.

“Things are clearly moving in the wrong direction for Franken,” said Larry Jacobs, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for the Study of Politics and Governance.

With fewer than half of the ballots counted in Minneapolis, Franken has lost 86 votes, while Coleman has lost just 37. In other words, the city could be blunting any recount advantage Franken might have in the rest of the state as the recount rolls toward its Dec. 5 deadline.

Sen. Coleman started Monday with a 180 vote lead. Monday finished with Sen. Coleman leading by 210 votes. If momentum ever existed for Franken, which I don’t think existed, it doesn’t exist anymore. After each precinct recount finishes, the weight must be getting heavier on Team Franken’s mind. They must know that their opportunity is slipping away.

When we look back at this process, we’ll likely realize that Franken tried creating artificial momentum by challenging properly filled out ballots in the hopes of influencing the Canvassing Board and the courts. History will likely say that that attempt failed.

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