Coleman and Franken match up hard to predict with number crunching

Categories: Elections

Stats geeks, gather 'round! We've got some really nerdy number crunching to mix up with your politics obsession. We spent the morning looking over a piece by FiveThirtyEight and still don't quite understand it, but maybe it will push your buttons. They analyze the probability of both Sen. Norm Coleman and Al Franken winning the recount based on voter error rates. Their conclusion? Franken might be the "prohibitive favorite depending on the number of recounted ballots".

The analysis comes from the basis that Coleman is ahead by 221, but that number is now down to 204, giving Franken a further advantage.

The article looks at the Correctable Error Rate (CER), which is the percentage of ballots that were not counted originally, but will be included in the hand recount. The odds are also calculated by the percentage of recounted ballots that are resolved after scanner error or voter error. FiveThirtyEight says Coleman and Franken don't necessarily have a 50/50 chance of gaining votes based on voters who typically make mistakes on their ballots.

Many people are saying all of this analysis is casting doubt on the election system and voter ability, but we're pretty sure everyone knew this sort of fluctuation happens after Election Day. Normally a few hundred votes, give or take, out of almost 3 million voters isn't a deal breaker, but this year it is.

It's impossible to sum up this number story, so read it in full here. Looks like both candidates have a good chance of winning, depending on the recount circumstances. Bring it on!

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