With all precincts accounted for, the race for governor of Minnesota is too close to call: Mark Dayton holds a narrow lead of approximately 9,000 votes over Tom Emmer out of 2,099,796 votes cast in yesterday's election. Given the vote margin and absent a concession by Emmer, state law requires a recount, reprising the recount battle of two years ago in the race for U.S. Senate between Al Franken and Norm Coleman. Third-party challenger Tom Horner garnered support from approximately 12 percent of those who voted for governor. Emmer's current second-place finish is a stark contrast to the otherwise dramatic showing of his Republican colleagues in the Minnesota legislature.
The vote tallies followed a fairly predictable pattern for Minnesota, with Dayton winning handlily in the urban counties of Hennepin and Ramsey and on the Iron Range. Tom Emmer won all of the suburban and most of the central, western and southern rural counties. The difference in the election (aside from that of Tom Horner's involvement in it) may well be Olmsted County. In 2006, Governor Tim Pawlenty carried the county over his Democrat challenger by nearly 16%; this time, Emmer's margin over Mark Dayton was half that, approximately 8 percent.
The mandatory recount will not commence for a few days while all the results around the state are verified. Thankfully (or not) Minnesota has vast experience in managing recounts, having only just concluded a hotly-contested recount for the U.S. Senate seat won by Al Franken. (That recount stretched over about five months with multiple challenges that went to the Minnesota Supreme Court). There is no reason to assume that this recount process won't follow the same path as did the Franken-Coleman recount battle, though the disputed votes in that election challenge ultimately involved less than 1,000 ballots, well below the margin in the Dayton-Emmer race.