I've run the numbers based on what was reported today (Nov. 18) in Michelle Breidenbach's piece in the Post-Standard (the piece does not seem to be on the website yet this morning), and here's what I'm getting, and what I still don't know. I actually had to use my rusty Algebra to generate this, so beware.
There are 6,063 Onondaga County absentee votes, and Maffei picked up 325 votes after 38 percent (2,304) of them were counted. If he keeps the same winning margin on the remaining votes in the county, he will pick up about another 530 votes.
Buerkle is currently 499 votes ahead, so again, if those margins stay consistent, and if it were just Onondaga absentee ballots to be counted, Maffei would emerge as the winner by about 30 votes.
BUT: Wayne County, which voted heavily for Buerkle, has not counted its absentee ballots.
AND: It's not clear to me whether all the challenged ballots in the other two counties have been adjudicated and counted, and if that's not the case, then Buerkle will likely pick up some additional votes, especially since Maffei's team was challenging more of those votes than Buerkle. If many of those challenges are overturned, then more of those votes will go to Buerkle.
AND: It's not clear where the military ballots fit in here. Are they still to be counted, or are they being counted along with the others? If they are still to be counted, then that's also likely to work in Buerkle's favor, I think.
SO: Add all those up and it's likely that Buerkle gets more than the 30 votes she'd need to make up for the Onondaga County effect.
Another way to look at these numbers as reported today is to focus on the total number of ballots yet to be counted--about 7,000 according to the article. But of those, only about 3,760 are still remaining in Onondaga County, and that is where Maffei will have to look to make up the remaining difference. That's only half of what's remaining to count.
SO AGAIN: Based on all that, I conclude that the math is still tilting in Buerkle's favor, but it's going to be very close. And I'm just working off the numbers I can read in the paper.
UPDATE: I believe I heard on WRVO driving home, and again on YNN, that a spokesperson for the Maffei campaign said that earlier today, with 58 percent of the Onondaga County votes counted, Buerkle's lead was down to 303. If that's true, and using the same method I used above, that would now mean that Maffei would emerge from the Onondaga County vote with about a 75 vote lead (consistent with what I calculated earlier), with those other absentee votes still yet to be counted. Again, that's if I heard the story right and the figures are accurate. But if that's true, then what I said above is still probably true regarding the other votes and the math--still slightly in Buerkle's favor.
Note: This blog draws in part on my experiences and observations interviewing political figures, writers, and analysts for "The Campbell Conversations" on WRVO. To hear past interviews I refer to in these posts, please go to the show's website. The views expressed here are solely my own, and do not represent Syracuse University, the Campbell Institute, or the WRVO Stations.
In addition to comments, I'd love to have guest posts. Please send ideas or full-blown posts to me at email@example.com.