Good news: Franken now leads by triple digits

280 and counting. Not only is this fantastically depressing, it’s fantastically confusing: Franken’s picking up votes by the hundreds because the board’s currently examining ballots challenged by Coleman, i.e. ballots which most everyone thinks are Franken votes but which weren’t counted before because Coleman found some nit to pick about them. They’re not done with those, so expect the lead to grow further this afternoon. Game over for Norm? Nope — there are another 5,000 ballots to be reviewed next week that were initially challenged by one of the candidates and then unchallenged because the nit picked in each case was simply too stupid to waste everyone’s time on. How are those ballots expected to shake out? In Coleman’s favor — but probably not enough:

Specifically, I have Franken taking a lead of about 430 votes after all challenged ballots are processed this afternoon. This includes “blue folder” ballots flagged (mostly by the Coleman campaign) for special circumstances. The Canvassing Board ruled this morning that they will evaluate blue folder ballots based on the markings on the ballot only, and will not consider the special circumstances behind them, which are outside of its jurisdiction and instead the subject for a court challenge. As such, very few of these types of challenges are likely to be successful, at least in the immediate term. Coleman has significantly more blue folder challenges than Franken, and so this is likely to add to Franken’s total.

I then have Franken losing a net of about 385 ballots once withdrawn challenges are processed, as Franken has more withdrawn challenges that Coleman, most of which are Coleman ballots. This would leave him with a small surplus.

Net result predicted by Nate Silver: Franken by 40 to 70 votes. Except that it’s unclear whether Silver’s factoring in the 1,600 absentee ballots that were initially rejected by the board but now also have to be counted, per standards agreed upon by Coleman and Franken, according to the state supreme court’s ruling yesterday. Which means, notwithstanding Coleman’s team assuring us that all will be well in the end, we’re looking at total uncertainty until January at least.

Let’s find out just how many pessimists we have on this site. Poll prediction: Franken, 80/20.

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