Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Why Norm’s Chances Were Always Slim At Best

Posted by Phoenix Woman on April 14, 2009

From the Minnesota Independent:

Coleman’s equal protection argument is “not trivial,” writes Guy Charles, a University of Minnesota law professor temporarily teaching at Duke University:

But as judges and legal academics like to say, that argument proves too much … Unfortunately for Coleman, his prospects always depended upon a miracle. He wanted before and wants now more ballots to be counted. But the more ballots that are counted — by election officials, the Canvassing Board and the trial court — the better Al Franken does.

Nate Silver said much the same thing last week:

Why has it been so clear that Franken is bound for victory? Throughout the process, there have been two types of ballots that are in some measure of dispute:

1) In-person ballots, which had one or more imperfections that led them to being not counted (or miscounted) on Election Day.
2) Absentee ballots, which had one more alleged imperfections, and which may or may not have been rejected in error.

The plurality of each of these types of ballots are likely to have been cast for Al Franken. How come? In the first case, spoiled or imperfect ballots are more likely to have been cast by what I call vulnerable voters: people such as students, lower-income voters, and minority voters who tend to vote less frequently and are therefore more likely to have made a mistake in completing their ballots. These same demographics, however, are also generally more likely to be Democratic voters, and that was especially so this year given Barack Obama’s appeal to some of these constituencies.

The second group of ballots — the absentee ballots — were also more likely to favor Democrats. This is because, in contrast to years prior when absentee ballots tended to be more Republican, the Democrats made a nationwide push this year for early and absentee voting, particularly in (purported) swing states like Minnesota. Pre-election polls (see here and here) showed Al Franken overperforming among absentee voters, and both the Franken and the Coleman legal teams were operating under the assumption that a plurality of such ballots would in fact be cast for Franken. If more wrongly-rejected absentee ballots have been turning up in blue precincts, that is simply because more absentee ballots period were cast in blue precincts, and the wrongly-rejected absentees constitute some more-or-less random subset of those. (If anything, in fact, the disputed absentee ballots are probably more likely than the nondisputed absentee ballots to have been cast for Franken, because they may be subject to the same “vulnerable voter” principle described above).


It was predictable, therefore, that when Coleman finally succeeded in getting Minnesota to count some additional absentee ballots yesterday, they turned out to increase Franken’s lead.

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