The attorney general's race between Republican Steve Cooley and Democrat Kamala Harris is on its way toward becoming one of the closest statewide contests in California history.
As of today, Cooley leads by 51,439 votes. But will that lead hold up?
Here is a back-of-the-envelope calculation of how things might end up. The 21 counties with the most ballots yet to be counted account for 1.5 million of the 1.7 million ballots remaining to be tabulated. If the remaining votes among those 21 counties were to be split proportionately with the votes in those counties that have already been counted, Harris would gain another 36,000 votes.
For example, Cooley won Sacramento County by 4 percentage points. Since it has 101,000 votes yet to be counted, he could reasonably expect to add 4,000 votes to his lead there. Or, Harris won Contra Costa County by 13 points, and could therefore expect to gain 11,000 votes once its 85,000 outstanding ballots are counted. And so on, through the other 19 counties with the most outstanding votes.
If the combined results in all those counties turns out to be proportional, it would mean that Cooley would still be up by about 15,000 votes out of about 8.5 million total votes.
The bottom line: Whichever way it turns out, this race could be even closer than the 2002 contest for controller, in which Democrat Steve Westly ultimately beat Republican Tom McClintock by 16,811 votes.