Georgia Congressman Sanford Bishop lost his seat Tuesday.

The Associated Press declared the veteran Democrat to have been defeated in a race with Republican challenger Mike Keown.

Then the votes were counted.

 On Thursday, Bishop was declared the winner.

Two days after the election, the counting and recounting of ballots continues. And the results that have yet to be tabulated will determine the extent of the setbacks Democrats suffered November 2.

This is important, as the initial spin on an election is not always right. In 1992, for instance, exit polls for the New Hampshire Republican presidential primary showed challenger Pat Buchanan to be within few percentage points of President George Bush. Television news outlets and newspaper reporters filing for morning deadlines went with the story and Bush was declared to have been humiliated. When the votes were actually counted, however, the president won by a landslide — 53 percent to 36 percent.

The initial storyline stuck, however, to such an extent that many people think Buchanan beat Bush in New Hampshire that year. A similar misinterpretation prevailed in the state’s 1968 Democratic primary; Lyndon Johnson won by a comfortable eight-point margin. But early reports of a surge for  Gene McCarthy created the impression that president’s anti-war challenger had come out on top.

There is no question that Republican gains in the House and Senate Tuesday were dramatic. But how dramatic will be determined by the final counts and recounts.

The Alaska and Washington state U.S. Senate races are still in play, although it is starting to look like Senator Patty Murray, D-Washington, is going to hold her seat.

 At least nine races involving incumbent House Democrats are also unsettled.
 

In each of the House races, the margin by which the Democratic incumbent is up or the Republican challenger is down is less than 1,000 votes — definitely the recount region.

According to The Hill newspaper and media sources in the various states:

* Washington Democrat. Rick Larsen was said to be looking like a loser on Tuesday night, when he trailed Republican John Koster by as much as 1,000 votes. But by Wednesday night Larsen was ahead by more than 500 votes.

* Arizona Democrat Gabrielle Giffords is slightly lead of Republican Jesse Kelly, with almost 50,000 ballots yet to be counted or reviewed.

* California Democrat Jay McNerney, who was written off by most observers as a sure loser, is ahead of Republican David Harmer by 121 votes, with thousands of  absentee and provisional ballots yet to be counted.

* California Democrat Jim Costa is slightly behind Republican Andy Vidak with a remarkable 100,000 absentee and provisional ballots uncounted.

* Illinois Democrat Melissa Bean leads Republican  Joe Walsh leads by fewer than 600 votes, with some ballots still under review.

* Kentucky Democrat Ben Chandler leads Republican Andy Barr by 644 votes, with one county in the district yet to report.

 * New York, Congressman Dan Maffei is behind Republican Ann Marie Buerkle bu around 600 votes, with absentee ballots to be counted over the next three weeks.

* Texas Democrat  Solomon Ortiz trails Republican Blake Farenthold by less than a thousand votes and the Ortiz campaign says: "There are a number of discrepancies that a legal team will be looking at.

* Virginia Democrat Gerry Connolly is slightly ahead of Republican Keith Fimian. Absentee ballots are still being counted and a recount is likely.
 
Two days after the election, Republicans had been declared winners of  239 seats in the House, a substantial total but not a whole lot more than the GOP had held during George Bush’s first term and  well short of the party’s highpoint of the past century. How the last races sort out will say a good deal about the scope and character of the party’s 2010 success. It was also say a lot about the amount of ground the Democrats have to make up in 2012 and beyond.