Minnesota Race Continues To Narrow

While the presidential race was called relatively early last Tuesday, there was another high profile election that will continue to drag on at least until December, no thanks to the Republican incumbent Norm Coleman.

It was almost comical; the moment that the unofficial tally gave Republican Senator Norm Coleman a 725 vote lead over Al Franken, both Coleman and the GOP did everything they could to declare him the undisputed victor.  They have done everything, including coming to within a hair’s breadth of begging Franken to concede.

But according to Minnesota state law, 725 votes is well within the range that calls for an automatic recount, setting up Coleman and his allies to continue to fight against such a recount.  The only problem is that seemingly with each passing day, the argument for a need to recount grows stronger.

Over the weekend, that 725 vote gap narrowed all the way down to 221 votes, and as of a few hours ago, the gap narrowed once again to just 206.  Given that I understand that unofficial tallies can differ from official tallies by as much as a few thousand votes, there is every reason in the world to believe that a deficit of only two-hundred votes can in fact be flipped following a recount.

What is the probability of this happening?  I don’t know, and I think it would only be responsible to say that Franken remains the underdog in this fight–Norm Coleman remains on the better side of the equation.  But Nate Silver has done his typical numbers crunching thing to give us at least a glimpse at the kinds of odds we are looking at.

There’s a lot of math going on over there, but the big gist is that Franken wins the senate seat a little under 40% of the time based on simulations, and that is with the vote deficit at 221.  As the gap narrows, the odds for Franken increase and thus while I don’t believe that the odds shift by a giant margin in Franken’s favor with a reduction of fifteen more votes, it does move the needle at least a little closer in his direction.

3 Responses to “Minnesota Race Continues To Narrow”

  1. tas says:

    This is just another case for either a runoff election or instant runoff voting. An independent candidate got 15% of the vote in the MN race; neither Franken or Coleman won a majority of the vote. So revote with just those two candidates running. Sure would solve the problems with recount bullshit.

  2. I agree completely. With the indie picking up only 15%, you take him off the ballot and this whole mess could get cleared up pretty easily.

  3. tas says:

    Instant runoff voting could help independent candidates, too. In 2000, if people had a chance to pick Nader first and Gore second, Gore would have ended up president and the Greens would have gotten 5% of the national popular vote to qualify for federal funding during the 2004 election season.

    But instead…

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