FRANKEN CONTINUES TO NARROW THE GAP…. It’s tough to walk away from obsessive interest in campaign coverage cold turkey, isn’t it? Fortunately, we have some fascinating, unresolved Senate races, which are akin to nicotine patches.

With that in mind, what’s the latest out of Minnesota? The gap gets narrower all the time.

Al Franken’s deficit just keeps on shrinking as the state adjusts the unofficial tally in the U.S. Senate election last week.

Today’s latest results show the DFL challenger is now trailing Republican incumbent Norm Coleman by 204 votes. That’s down from 221 over the weekend.

As of 12:10 p.m., Coleman has 1,211,560 votes to Franken’s 1,211,356.

Whether there will be a full, statewide recount is no longer an issue. State law mandates one for races where the margin is 0.5% or less, and the gap in the Coleman-Franken contest is a little less than 0.01%. Coleman was leaning on Franken to concede and skip this process, but even if he’s given up on avoiding a recount.

What’s next? The Star Tribune reports that Minnesota counties will present their final tallies today, with the country reports going to county canvassing boards, which will in turn report to Minnesota’s secretary of state’s office. (The SOS is Mark Ritchie, a liberal Dem, who has vowed a deliberate, above-board, nonpartisan recount. State Republicans have vowed to watch him closely.)

Ritchie will submit the tallies to the state canvassing board on Nov. 18. As Eric Kleefeld noted, both sides are “fully lawyered up and ready to go.”

And who’s eventually going to win this thing? Time will tell, but while we wait, Nate Silver crunches the numbers and explains what binomial distribution means. (It’s more interesting than it sounds.) Long story short: Franken has a pretty good shot at coming out on top.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.