Friday, November 07, 2008

 

So it will come to Georgia

Three Senate Races remain up in the air... Alaska, Georgia, and Minnesota. The first and last are already "decided" in the sense that the votes have been cast and merely need counting. The middle has a runoff in a little less than a month.

I believe that good reason exists that the Democratic candidates in both Alaska and especially Minnesota will emerge once all the votes are counted.

In Minnesota, Senator Norm Coleman declared victory and basically asked Comedian Al Franken to concede and forego a state mandated recount. Anyone can see past the politics of the move. At the time of this request Coleman lead by 700+ votes or .03% (much less than the .5% necessary for a state mandated recount), but since then Franken has closed the gap to 221 votes out of about 3 million cast. And this has nothing to do with a recount, it is merely counties rechecking their math (in one case a county gave Franken 100 less votes than he actually received). Conventional wisdom holds and I believe correctly that the vast majority of contested ballots were "Franken" ballots that were cast by the less educated and first time voters. Minnesota uses optical scan ballots and lord knows that someone checked Franken's name instead of filling in the bubble. Hand inspection of these ballots will show that the true intent of these ballots were voters wishing to vote for Franken.

In Washington, a similar recount four years ago allowed now re-elected Governor Christine Gregoire to overcome a similar deficit to Dino Rossi.

In Alaska, Senator and convicted felon Ted Stevens continues to maintain a small 3,200 vote lead over Mark Begich. The problem is that over 60,000 ballots remain uncounted. The vast majority of these ballots are absentee with some early votes and contested ballots as well. The vast majority of these ballots come from Begich's strongholds of Region I and II as compared to Stevens' Mat-Su region. Further analysis by Nate Silver (http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2008/11/uncounted-votes-may-push-begich-past.html) suggests that if current trends hold Begich will overcome Stevens' lead and win by about 3,000 votes.

Way too close to call in Alaska, and anyone who knows the final outcome is either God or lying.

So it all comes down to Georgia... where we have a runoff on December 2nd between Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss and Democratic challenger Jim Martin. Chambliss was held under the 50% margin necessary for a clean victory on election day, and the runoff seems to be a close one. Two general rules for runoffs. One, challengers usually benefit. Two, African-American turnout usually decreases. One benefits Martin and two benefits Chambliss. Which candidate supporters will be motivated and come out and vote? I don't know. But I do know that in the Republican state of Georgia, I would think that with the Libertarian off the ballot, the slight advantage must go to the incumbent Saxby Chambliss.

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