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Is Al Franken ahead?
The Democrat claims he's leading as the recount in his tight race for Sen. Norm Coleman's seat winds down.
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emocrat Al Franken's campaign claims he has edged ahead of Sen. Norm Coleman in Minnesota's recount, said Aaron Blake in The Hill online. Franken's camp says he's ahead by 22 votes, while the state says Coleman is still up by about 300 votes. Challenged ballots account for the difference—the state tally exludes them, but Franken aides assume the challenges will be rejected and counts those votes the way an independent judge scored them.

"It's a tiny margin, which is bound to change," said Steve Benen in The Washington Monthly online, but it's worth noting. This is the first time Franken has claimed the lead. But, remember: There are 138,000 ballots waiting to be reviewed, so there are more "twists and turns" ahead.

Yes, but Franken has reason for optimism, said Mike Kaszuba and Curt Brown in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune. With 93 percent of the votes recounted, he "unexpectedly picked up 37 votes" when 171 votes in one county were tallied after being ignored due to combined human and mechanical error. And the state said it would "examine" as many as 1,000 absentee ballots that Franken says were "improperly rejected."

"Franken-fearing Americans" still shouldn't despair, said John McCormack in The Weekly Standard online. Coleman picked up dozens of votes, too, on Tuesday. And Franken's people might be counting wrong, or, as Coleman claims, simply inventing the comedian's lead "to win the public relations battle and grease the skids for court challenges."

“The recount in Minnesota is futile,” said Charles Seife in The New York Times. So many ballots have been lost or spoiled that—no matter what the tally shows when the recount winds up this week—“the outcome will really be a statistical tie.” Luckily, Minnesota law says that, in a statistical tie, the victor can be chosen by lot. “It’s hard to swallow,” but maybe flipping a coin is the only fair thing to do.

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