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All Eyes: Obenshain Has Chance to Reverse Virginia Results in Recall

All Eyes: Obenshain Has Chance to Reverse Virginia Results in Recall

Republican Mark Obenshain has an uphill battle in the recall count for the Virginia attorney general race after the state board of elections on Monday officially certified Democrat Mark Herring the winner by 165 votes out of more than 2.2 million cast, but history shows that it is not an impossible task.

Although Obenshain certainly has a right to seek a recount, several state and national Democrats have suggested the Republican hopeful is on a fool's errand. More often than not, they argue, recounts add even more votes to the margin of the winner in the initial count.

An often-cited case-in-point is the race for the same office in 2005, when Republican Bob McDonnell edged Democrat Creigh Deeds by 323 votes. With about 7,500 ballots run back through tabulation machines a second time, 37 votes were added to the winning margin of McDonnell, now governor of Virginia.

But the attorney general's race that is about to be recounted is different from that of eight years ago. According to the VPAP newsletter on Virginia politics, an estimated 712,000 ballots are to be run back through a tabulation machine, or 100 times more ballots recounted in this race than in the one in 2005.

The history of statewide recounts does favor the top vote-getter in the initial count over the runner-up. However, that history is by no means absolute. In fact, in some recounts for major offices over the past half-century reversed the outcome of the race.

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