The State of the Senate Update

In Minnesota, Norm Coleman’s lead has grown back to 210 votes. (At the start of the recount process, Coleman was up 215 votes, but during the recount Franken had narrowed the gap to as low as 120.) The catch is that, with 77 percent of the recount in, the campaigns have challenged more than 3,000 ballots, so it’s hard to say for sure who is gaining or losing votes. Nate Silver has done some statistical work suggesting that Franken’s gains have been understated, and that actually he’s the favorite to win. His analysis is based on the idea that Franken has gained in counties in which there are either no challenges or few challenges, and that Coleman’s gap widened as challenges increased dramatically. But I’d take a bit different of an approach. If Coleman’s lead stays in the 200 vote range, it would seem difficult for Franken to gain that many votes in a universe of just a few thousand challenged ballots. Keep in mind that these ballots have already been ruled on once by an elections judge, so you’d have to assume that an overwhelming majority of the challenges will fail, and right now the campaigns are challenging roughly the same number of ballots. So, if Coleman maintains his current margin as the Canvassing Board meets to rule on the challenged ballots, I think he’d be an pretty good position.

Meanwhile, in Georgia, Saxby Chambliss looks like he has the edge in next week’s run-off, with a new PPP poll showing him crossing the magic 50-percent number with a 52-46 lead. An internal Democratic poll shows Chambliss below 50 percent, but still leading 48-46. I would add that the final PPP poll prior to the election showed Chambliss with a 48-46 lead, and he ended up winning the initial vote by a 49.8-46.8 margin. So in other words, the poll didn’t skew Republican. I continue to believe that without Obama on the ballot, Martin won’t benefit from super-sized black turnout, and that the state’s traditional voting universe favors Chambliss.