Pushing 60

Democrats are getting closer to total control of the U.S. Senate. The race in Alaska has been called for the Democrat, giving them a count of 58 so far.  On tough fights, 60 votes are needed to overwhelm the opposition. This can be done with crossover votes from the opposition party, but for Democrats to do maximum destruction, they'd love to reach 60 without help from Republicans.
Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska, convicted last month on federal ethics charges, lost his bid for a seventh term as final ballots were counted on Tuesday, giving Democrats at least 58 seats in the Senate for the first years of the Obama administration.
The Stevens loss leaves just two races undecided - the Saxby Chambliss runoff in Georgia, and the Al Franken/Norm Coleman fight in Minnesota. Al Franken has been declared the loser in Minnesota, but the margin is tight, and Al is grasping at every possible loophole to try to steal the election.
The Franken strategy, as a recount gets underway, is to challenge undervotes. That is, the difference between the number of votes for Barack and those for Franken. Since Franken received substantially less than Barack, he's assuming there must be a problem. This requires, however, ignoring reality.
We saw this dynamic all through the election season.  Franken consistently ran far behind Obama in Minnesota.  Some Obama voters supported Coleman, and some supported Dean Barkley as an alternative.  Some apparently decided not to support anyone at all.  The notion that a significant difference in support between Obama and Franken amounts to some sort of malfeasance or frustrated voter intent is sheer fantasy.
I always blank certain races on a ballot - especially those where an incumbent is running unopposed. It would make sense that large numbers of independent voters, swayed by the national swoon over Barack, might have not had similar euphoria over Franken.
Voters have a right not to cast votes in a particular race, which is why the optical-scan tabulators do not check for “undervotes”.  In fact, “undervotes” do not exist; they’re a myth.  When voters choose not to support a candidate, they don’t cast votes for the candidate, and if they don’t vote at all in a race, that’s intentional.  If they intended to vote in a race, they had ample opportunity to do so.  We Minnesotans spent a fortune on a balloting system that captures voter intent in the best manner possible, and the recount effort must not involve the wholesale second-guessing of that clear statement.
In Georgia, incumbent Republican Saxby Chambliss faces a run-off against challenger Jim Martin.
The run-off election between Senator Saxby Chambliss and Jim Martin is more than two weeks away and both sides are making the most of a campaign that has gone into overtime. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee campaigned on behalf of Mr. Chambliss, the incumbent Republican senator, on Sunday.
The run-off is required by Georgia law because Chambliss failed to get 50% of the vote.
Mr. Huckabee brought his trademark wit to the rally in Georgia this weekend, telling supporters that turnout will be a critical factor in the Dec. 2 runoff. “If they’re voting for Saxby, get them to the polls,” Huckabee said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “If they’re not, let the air out of their tires.” But the Democrats also have some star power up their sleeves. Former president Bill Clinton plans to stump for Mr. Martin on Wednesday. And while there are no signs yet that President-elect Barack Obama will go to Georgia to campaign on Mr. Martin’s behalf, that did not stop his campaign from invoking Mr. Obama in a new ad.