It could be tighter. It rarely is.
And the Missouri presidential preference primary isn’t quite over.
Results released Wednesday showed Hillary Clinton apparently beat Bernie Sanders. She drew 1,531 more votes, or an edge of just 0.245 percent.
Donald Trump bested Ted Cruz by an even more impossibly thin percentage, winning by just 1,726, or 0.185 percent of the total.
But those tallies did not include provisional and overseas absentee ballots. Those will be counted only when the election is certified, about four weeks after Election Day.
They could easily matter.
In the state’s last primary — in which President Barack Obama faced no serious challenge and the Republican side was muddled by a caucus that its national party rejected — more than 30,000 overseas and military ballots were cast.
That number is likely to be exceeded this year with contested fights in both parties. The last of the ballots can be received by election officials through Friday. Those numbers will only be revealed with certification that’s still weeks away.
On the Democratic side, the results will still likely mean the candidates roughly split 71 delegates at stake.
The Democrats allot Missouri delegates proportionally by congressional district and proportionally from a smaller cache of delegates statewide. The party also sends 13 so-called superdelegates to its Philadelphia convention. Those superdelegates are free to back whom they want regardless of the primary vote. All of that baker’s dozen have sided with Clinton.
Republicans in Missouri distribute their delegates in slightly more complex fashion. The GOP has no superdelegates. Instead, a candidate wins delegates first by congressional district. Win a district, you take all five of its delegates. In addition, 12 at-large delegates all go to the winner of the statewide voting.
So even though Trump and Cruz split the state almost evenly, the Missouri Republican Party late Wednesday said that, pending certification of the election results, Trump walks away with 37 delegates, Cruz with 15.
But the outstanding votes would not have to be dramatically lopsided for Cruz for him to win the statewide tally and overtake Trump in some congressional districts.
State law allows a candidate who loses by less than 0.5 percent — both Sanders and Cruz would appear to fit the bill in this primary — to demand a re-count. The state pays for such re-counts. The campaigns must wait for certification of the results, however, before asking for a re-count.
“It’s not automatic,” said Stephanie Fleming, a spokeswoman for the Missouri secretary of state. “They have to request it.”
Turnout was high, more than 1.5 million votes cast on Tuesday. Almost a third more Republicans turned out than Democrats. The total set a record for turnout in the state in a presidential primary of 39 percent of registered voters. The previous high was 36 percent in 2008 — the last time both parties saw competitive races.