Norm Coleman will go back into the lead tomorrow. Here's why.
Remember that the two campaigns made about the same number of challenges. Al Franken withdrew more challenges than Coleman did, about 500 more. This was a tactical decision on Franken's part. Because the challenged ballots were adjudicated first, Franken had 500 more votes to add than Coleman did in the challenge phase. Not surprisingly, Franken went into the lead. He got the headline he wanted, which was the whole point of the exercise.
But the remainder of the previously challenged ballots get added back into the totals this week. That means that when the ballots that were challenged but withdrawn are added back into the mix, Coleman will add about 500 more votes than Franken does. Norm will be back into the lead by about the same margin he's been leading all along, about 225 or so.
It will go to litigation, of course. And those absentee ballots are potentially a problem. But when the final results of the litigation take place, I predict the following things will happen:
1) The phantom votes from Dinkytown will get withdrawn, because there is no physical evidence that they exist. Since Franken and his people are insisting that they count every vote, they won't be in a position to demand that votes that don't physically exist be counted. No one can find the "missing" votes for good reason. They don't exist.
2) Taking away those 133 ballots from Franken will mean that Norm is essentially about 400 votes up.
3) If the additional "wrongly rejected" absentee ballots get counted, Franken would have to get almost 1000 of the 1600 to overtake Norm. That's possible, but highly unlikely, especially since some of the votes will belong to Dean Barkley.
I might be wrong, of course. But I doubt I am. If I am wrong, tell me why.
Cross-posted at Truth vs. the Machine