With every precinct reporting, Democrat Scott Murphy leads Republican Jim Tedisco by a razor-thin 65 votes out of over 165,000 cast in the contest for Kirsten Gillibrand's old upstate congressional seat. But thousands of absentee ballots have yet to be counted, some not due in from overseas military personnel for nearly two weeks, so the results will remain in limbo for now. Plus, after all the votes are in, there's always the potential for a long, arduous recount process involving legal maneuvers you didn't even know existed. Of course, though the outcome is still in doubt, the spinning has already begun in earnest.
Not surprisingly, both parties are hedging their bets in case they lose, playing the old "beating expectations" card. In this alternate reality, both candidates were somehow up against overwhelming odds and can declare a moral victory just for making a good showing (until you're actually declared the winner then being competitive just doesn't cut it). RNC chairman Michael Steele, whose job security many suspect may hinge on this race, says Tedisco and the RNC "went toe-to-toe with the Obama Democratic machine that looked invincible in the Northeast just a few months ago and showed that our party can and will be competitive in areas of the country where our party hasn’t won recently.” At the same time, Obama's press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters, "To even be competitive in a district like that, I think says a lot." Ah, election spin we missed you.
Upstate battle for Kirsten Gillibrand Congressional seat is too-close-to-call [NYDN]