Without fanfare, Merced County added 143 ballots to its vote count on Thursday, and incumbent Fresno Democrat Jim Costa’s lead in the 16th Congressional District shrunk by 11 votes.
Costa’s lead is now a mere 75 votes over unheralded Republican challenger Johnny Tacherra. In raw numbers, it is 43,232 to 43,157.
Still, given Costa’s strength in Fresno County, where a few thousand 16th District votes remain to be counted, Tacherra will likely have to do much better than he currently is doing in both Merced and Madera counties if he hopes to take back the lead.
Fresno County updated its vote count Wednesday afternoon, and Costa — behind in his reelection bid since election night more than a week ago — took a slim, 86-vote lead over Tacherra. Headed into Wednesday, Tacherra had a 741-vote lead, but the Fresno County update added 1,708 votes to Costa’s total. Tacherra added just 881 votes. The difference pushed Costa from the 741-vote deficit to the 86-vote lead.
On Friday, Fresno will announce a further vote-count update.
Merced still has around 1,370 provisional votes left to county, and Madera County is working through its final 722 provisional ballots from the 16th District. In Fresno County, it is unknown how many of the 600 remaining mail ballots and 10,100 provisional ballots are from the 16th Congressional District. Based on ballots counted so far, it is likely around 2,000.
Costa has been winning around 63% of the Fresno County vote. Tacherra has been winning two-thirds of Madera County and around 55% of Merced County. He won 54% of today’s Merced County update.