Democrat Hannah-Beth Jackson got what she needed yesterday when the first round of provisional ballots were tabulated in Santa Barbara County. She won 65 percent of those votes, carving 700 off Republican Tony Strickland's lead in the nail-biting 19th Senate District contest.
On the flip side, Jackson may be running out of ballots. There are only about 3,000 more provisionals in Santa Barbara County, meaning that if Jackson does as well in the second batch as she did the first, she could pick up another 700 votes or so.
That would still leave Strickland with a 1,000-vote lead.
Ventura County started counting the first of its 14,000 provisional ballots yesterday. Jackson would need to win those by 7 or 8 percentage points to stay in the game. In order for that to happen, a big chunk of those provisionals will have to be from first-time voters who registered late in the process -- and did so because they wanted to vote for Barack Obama.
There are still a whole lot of "if's" involved, but so far the vote-counting is playing out as Jackson consultant Parke Skelton said needed to happen for his candidate to have a chance: Strickland's lead had to be 2,500 or less (it got up to 2,400 and change) after the late vote-by-mail ballots had been tallied.
The advantage at this point is clearly Strickland's, but don't be surprised if the final margin of victory -- for either candidate -- is less than 500.