Just like Franken/Coleman? Not quite!

In Minnesota Political News on November 3, 2010 at 6:36 pm


With mid-term 2010 over, Minnesotans awake today to learn that once again the election is not truly over, at least for us. Tom Emmer and Mark Dayton have found themselves and the state on the heels of an automatic recount in the Minnesota governor’s race. While it is easy to herald this as the second coming of the Franken/Coleman recount of just two years ago, the numbers are vastly different this time.

On the morning of November 5th, 2008, Norm Coleman held a 725 vote lead over Al Franken with 2.9 million ballots cast. This represents far less than one-half of one percent of ballots cast. In contrast, the Dayton/Emmer divide is just under 9000 votes at 8,854 and approximately 2 million votes cast. The margin is just on the cusp of one half of one percent, thus triggering an automatic recount under state law. Simply put the Franken/Coleman recount had almost 50 percent more votes cast with a margin of roughly 10% of that of Dayton/Emmer.  The numbers between these races are just not similar enough and the statistical odds are far easier to discern when comparing Dayton/Emmer to Franken/Coleman.

To put a greater perspective on this, lets consider some figures from Accordingly, only 18 statewide recounts have occurred in the U.S. between 2000-2009 and of those only 3 have produced a change in the electoral outcome. Statistically this results in 1 out of every 961 races in that time period. On a percentage basis, this equates to a near one-tenth of one percent that such an occurence has come to pass. Further adding to mix, research tells us that the average change in the vote margin in recounts is 276 votes on statewide races studied between 1980 and 2006. This means that the average change in vote margin in that time was 0.041 percent. In Minnesota’s 2010 gubernatorial race, the margin was nearly 0.5 percent, at the edge of an automatically triggered recount. Simply put, despite the pundits and polemicists, the odds do not look good for Tom Emmer.


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