Come on, Nate Silver (FiveThirtyEight.com), make up your mind. I posted yesterday about his calculations that suggested Al Franken stood to gain in the recount, and now he’s backing off the prediction (h/t: David Brauer)
Silver’s ability to predict the effect of human behavior in the future is based almost exclusively on history. And the more he researches history, the better it looks for Norm Coleman, apparently.
He looked at the results of voting in Florida which uses the optical scan system as Minnesota does, and found a relatively accurate count. Then he compared that to past reviews of Minnesota’s optical scan machines:
In Minnesota’s 2006 senate race, the audit detected just 53 discrepancies out of 94,073 ballots tested, or an error rate of 0.056%. However, these are the cases of machine error only, whereas the state has a liberal voter intent law to cover cases of voter error as well during the process of an actual recount.
Yeah…yeah…. let’s fast-forward past all the math and get to the bottom line:
Would this number be sufficient to provide Al Franken with a victory? It is very, very close. Using the Daily Kos estimate that 52.5% of recounted ballots will go to Franken (after dropping votes for third parties), we estimate a net gain of 206 votes for him, which is almost exactly the margin by which he presently trails Norm Coleman. (The margin is in fact exactly 206 votes as of this writing).
Great. A tie! Mark Ritchie last week said there are no provisions in Minnesota law for a revote, so we’re talking coin flip. For that, we need a coin.
I know there are some brilliant Photoshop types out here (like the one who created the Bob Collins Seal of Approval button, so take a stap at designing a U.S. Senate election in Minnesota coin. Send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or use this form.
If I get enough, we’ll vote and the winner will get this swell prize:
And a patented two-hour tour of News Cut’s world headquarters.