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History suggests Herring would have a shot in Va. recount

The Virginia attorney general's race appears headed for a recount, with the latest results showing Republican Mark Obenshain leading Democrat Mark Herring by fewer than 800 votes out of about 2.2 million cast.

And according to a study by the group FairVote, Herring is currently well within the margin under which the race could flip in his favor.

The study shows the average statewide recount between 2000 and 2012 shifted the vote total by about 0.03 percent, with the largest shift being 0.11 percent.

According to the latest numbers, Obenshain's lead over Herring is just more than 0.03 percent.

Now, it should be noted that the vote count will continue to shift as provisional and other ballots continue to be counted. But at this point, it seems a recount could indeed flip the contest to Herring -- or flip it to Obenshain if Herring overtakes him before the recount.

Everyone remembers, of course, the 2008 recount of the Minnesota Senate race. In that contest, GOP Sen. Norm Coleman led by 725 votes out of more than 2.8 million cast. He wound up losing by 312 votes to now-Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.). That shift was just under 0.04 percent -- larger than Herring's current deficit.


While several high-profile recounts have dominated the news over the last decade-plus, recounts remain exceedingly rare.

Only about 1 in 200 statewide contests resulted in a recount between 2000 and 2012, according to the study, and there were no recounts after the 2012 election -- out of 419 contests.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.

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