I gotta say, I was pretty skeptical this morning, when I came across the “Common Dreams” article that was piping off to the effect that Norman Solomon was still within striking distance of Republican Dan Roberts in the Second District Congressional race, which concluded Tuesday. Hold on, Common Dreams said — there are still a whole bunch of absentee ballots out there!

“Ha ha!” I quipped to a colleague. “Now I see why that publication has the world ‘dreams’ in its title!”

Droll. But now I’m not so skeptical. The Solomon campaign claims to have called around some, and it claims that there are as many as 40,000 absentees still uncounted, most of them in the Solomon-rich counties of Marin, Sonoma and Mendocino. If Solomon has 1,380 more votes in that pile than Roberts does, then he goes to November runoff against Jared Huffman and Roberts stays home.

How likely is that? Let’s run some very rough figures that should put us to within at least an order of magnitude. Say that 40 percent of the Solomon campaign’s 40,000 uncounted ballots go to Huffman. That leaves 24,000. Now take away 10 percent for Stacey Lawson: 20,000 remaining. Subtract 8 percent for Susan Adams: 16,800. Take away another 10 percent for minor candidates. That leaves something like 12,800 votes between Solomon and Roberts.

Solomon needs to capture 7,090 of those 12,800 to best Roberts. That is only 55 percent. Eminently possible, if the preceding figures are in the ballpark — especially given the counties where the bulk of the remaining ballots are awaiting tabulation.

Press release from the Solomon campaign:

California’s Secretary of State Debra Bowen has designated the ongoing race for the 2nd Congressional District as a “close contest” due to the unresolved question as to who the top two finishers will be once all the votes cast in the race are counted (http://vote.sos.ca.gov/returns/close-contests/).

As of the most-recent vote count, Democrat Norman Solomon and Republican Dan Roberts are separated by only 1.1 percent with tens of thousands of ballots throughout the 2nd Congressional District remaining to be counted before county elections officials certify the election results to the Secretary of State by the first week of July.

“We are confident once all of the votes cast in this race are actually counted that Norman Solomon will have earned a top-two finish and advance to the general election,” declared Tom Higgins, Solomon’s political consultant.

County elections officials are to report the estimated number of ballots in their possession and remaining to be counted to the Secretary of State later today.  However, elections officials in all six counties comprising the 2nd Congressional District have already announced the actual number or made preliminary estimates as to the number of ballots remaining to be counted.

Location and Number of Ballots Remaining to be Counted 

Marin County – 20,000 to 25,000 according to Registrar of Voters Elaine Ginnold and reported in the Marin Independent Journal (http://www.marinij.com/tiburonbelvedere/ci_20799359/solomon-2nd-district-congressional-race-remains-wide-open);

Sonoma County – 25,000 to 35,000 according to Registrar of Voters Janice Atkinson and reported in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat (http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20120606/ARTICLES/120609646?p=all&tc=pgall);

It should be noted Sonoma County is split between CD 2 and CD 5, and the number of ballots remaining to be counted in each is unknown at this time.

Mendocino County – 6,634 according to Registrar of Voters Susan M. Ranochak and issued in a press release from her office last night (attached);

Humboldt County – 5,700 as estimated by Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich, with media so advised as of this morning;

Del Norte County – 359 according to Registrar of Voters Alissia Northrup’s staff and advised this morning;

Trinity County – Fewer than 300 according to Registrar of Voters Dave Hunt’s staff and advised this morning.

There are fewer ballots remaining to be counted in Trinity, Del Norte, and Humboldt counties combined – where Roberts outperformed Solomon – than in Mendocino County alone, a Solomon stronghold.  And there are multiples more ballots remaining to be counted in Mendocino, Sonoma and Marin counties combined, where Solomon handily bested Roberts on Election Day. 

“In reviewing these numbers, a conservative estimate is there are at least 40,000 ballots left to be counted in the 2nd Congressional District,” continued Higgins.  “More important is the distribution of these remaining ballots throughout the district coupled with the fact that these votes will perform more like polling place votes than early-return absentees did. That is how and why Norman Solomon will overtake Dan Roberts to secure the second-place finish he has earned once all the votes are counted in this race,” concluded Higgins