Hope the checkbook is handy! Just getting in under the wire, Team Trump announced it would file for a recount in Wisconsin today. They’re not recounting the entire state, though:

As the Associated Press reported this morning, the campaign had a 5 pm CT deadline today to make this decision. They also have to pony up nearly eight million dollars to fund it, or would have if they wanted to recount the whole state:

The totals submitted by all 72 counties to the state elections commission showed Trump with a roughly six-tenths of a point margin — close enough for Trump to file for a recount. Biden widened his lead over Trump by 62 votes compared with unofficial totals posted by the counties before they were certified.

Trump has until 5 p.m. Wednesday to file for a recount and pay for it. If he wants a statewide recount, he will have to pay $7.9 million up front. He can also request recounts only in certain counties, which would reduce the cost. A recount would have to start no later than Saturday and be done by Dec. 1.

They’re paying less than half:

This is, at least, a valid part of the electoral process. It’s not an attempt to invalidate an entire election by getting the legislature to order a new set of electors, for instance. Recounts might seem churlish to some, but the law provides for them for good reason — even if in this case the gap is far too wide to overcome in recounts, with Joe Biden holding a 20,400+ lead in the state.

So which counties will get the recount? There aren’t many where Trump can expect to make up more than a few hundred in any case, and the most populous are also the most rigidly Democratic — Dane and Milwaukee. Trump lost those two counties by a combined 350,000 or so votes, so those have the highest mathematical potential for conversion. If you know anything about Dane or Milwaukee, however, the lopsided losses Trump suffered are no surprise, and it seems highly unlikely that he’d get enough votes in a recount of either to put a dent in Biden’s lead. Outside of those two counties, Team Trump would have to recount a significant number of counties to find more than a handful of votes.

The parsing of counties might present another problem. Part of Bush v Gore was an argument over how to recount Florida; Al Gore wanted only certain counties recounted, while George Bush argued that any recount had to be statewide to be legitimate. In that case, Florida ordered the recount rather than a request from either campaign, and Wisconsin law apparently allows for partial recounts. It still might become an issue in court, assuming it gets that far.

It’s almost certain to be moot anyway. As we have repeatedly discovered, recounts don’t change vote totals in the thousands, but only in the hundreds. A 20,000-vote gap won’t change enough for Team Biden to initiate any legal action. This is just another step toward resolution — perhaps not as quick as some would like, but a perfectly legal and reasonable check on the electoral process.

Update: They’re sticking with the mathematical prospects, according to CNN and Jason Calvi:

That is almost certain to be a waste of both time and money, but one can see why they’re making this choice. It’s the total number of votes, which is masking the limited potential for any success. Here are the results so far in Dane and Milwaukee:

  • Dane: 260,157 Biden, 78,789 Trump (75.72/22.93)
  • Milwaukee: 317,251 Biden, 134,355 Trump (69.37/29.38)

The problem is that this isn’t much different than in 2016, when Trump won Wisconsin:

  • Dane: 217,697 Clinton, 71,275 Trump (71.4/23.4)
  • Milwaukee: 288,822 Clinton, 126,069 Trump (66.4/29.0)

Biden marginally outperformed Clinton in both cities, but that’s not a big surprise. Trump won Wisconsin in 2016 in other counties, not in Dane or Milwaukee. A recount that focuses only on the two Democratic centers of power in the state is a recount doomed to failure.