Franken-Coleman Update: 206 Votes!
As of 03:31:10 pm Central Standard Time today, Norm Coleman’s lead over Al Franken has dropped to 206 votes:
As Nate Silver explains at FiveThirtyEight.com, any cuts in Norm’s lead before the results are finalized this week is really bad news for Coleman:
Until now, however, we have been assuming that ballot tabulation errors are equally likely to favor Franken and Coleman — but this is probably not the case. Why not? There is substantial evidence that undervotes and overvotes are significantly more common among what we might call vulnerable voters — in particular, minorities, elderly voters, low-income and low-education voters, and first-time voters. A 2001 study for the House Committee on Government Reform, found that undervoted ballots were more than twice as common in minority-heavy, low-income precincts than in predominately white, upper-income precincts — even when using the relatively reliable, precinct-based optical scanning system that Minnesota uses. (The discrepancies are significantly higher when using less reliable technologies like punch cards.)
While Minnesota’s elderly tended to favor Coleman, all the other groups cited in this paragraph of Nate’s did not. In fact, most of them went for Franken by large margins.
Nate, working from a 221-vote figure, gave Franken between a 39.3% and a 44.3% percent chance of winning; I suspect that, with the new 206-vote figure, the odds in favor of Franken may have topped 50%.