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The unofficial vote totals from the Minnesota Secretary of State's office seem to have stabilized, with Coleman ahead of Franken by 206 votes.

So there's no point in re-running yesterday's analysis.  What I will do today is chase down a few ideas that have been in my head for a few days, and look at the available data a little differently.

Plus I'll throw in a few new graphs.  Because I like graphs.

Part One

Currently I'm showing a presidential undervote of 10086 and a senate undervote of 34916, unchanged from yesterday.  Several commenters have pointed out that the presidential undervote is likely to be the cap on "accidental" undervotes for senate, because it seems unlikely that voting machines would have different error rates for the two races, or that voters will mark their ballot differently for president than for senate.

If we make this assumption, what does the data look like?  I showed the graph of the presidential undervote yesterday, but not the presidential undervote rate, which looks like this:

Note that unlike the senate undervote rate, there is no upward slope from left to right; Franken precincts don't seem to have undervoted the presidential race in significantly greater numbers than Coleman precincts.  But Franken still holds a small advantage here, because there were more ballots cast in Franken's strongest precincts (right side of graph):

If I assume that the presidential undervote is the "unintentional" undervote for both races, and allocate all of those votes along the Franken/Coleman/Barkley split for that precinct, I wind up with Franken +4262, Coleman +4167, for an overall benefit to Franken of +95 votes.  As that's only half of what would be needed to swing the election, Al Franken fans should be hoping that there are unintentional senate undervotes above and beyond the presidential undervote, or that other factors mean that Franken votes were more likely to have gone uncounted.

Be sure to also check out Nate Silver's latest at fivethirtyeight.  He found some great information on optical scanners, undervotes, and voter intent.

Part Two

To go in a completely different direction, because the recount will be administered at the county level, I've been wondering which counties will be the important ones.  As it turns out, this question is a lot easier to answer than I thought it'd be.  Short answer: Hennepin, Ramsey, and Saint Louis counties will by far be the most important, with Hennepin county able to swing this election all by itself.

I ran this analysis yesterday, so like yesterday's post it allocates the entire senate undervote to the candidates.  The numbers are much bigger than what are shown in Part One above, and like my earlier posts, the assumption is that only 10-20% of these are unintentional (13% or higher results in a win for Franken).  I'm not promoting either of these methodologies over the other; either one, or a mix of the two, might be correct.

Here are the expected undervote allocations for Minnesota's 87 counties, sorted by the expected benefit to Coleman.  Coleman's best counties are at the top and Franken's are at the bottom.

CARVER		  [ 479 undervotes] Franken + 138.27, Coleman + 259.57, change F -121.30
SCOTT		  [ 660 undervotes] Franken + 210.82, Coleman + 329.08, change F -118.26
WRIGHT		  [ 540 undervotes] Franken + 156.97, Coleman + 272.11, change F -115.14
DAKOTA		  [2067 undervotes] Franken + 811.19, Coleman + 925.30, change F -114.11
WASHINGTON	  [1271 undervotes] Franken + 481.54, Coleman + 587.33, change F -105.78
ANOKA		  [1522 undervotes] Franken + 578.43, Coleman + 673.02, change F  -94.58
SHERBURNE	  [ 424 undervotes] Franken + 132.44, Coleman + 213.18, change F  -80.74
STEARNS 	  [1021 undervotes] Franken + 376.37, Coleman + 456.24, change F  -79.88
OLMSTED 	  [1287 undervotes] Franken + 510.47, Coleman + 584.25, change F  -73.78
OTTER TAIL	  [ 357 undervotes] Franken + 120.83, Coleman + 186.64, change F  -65.81
CHISAGO 	  [ 264 undervotes] Franken +  89.40, Coleman + 124.56, change F  -35.15
ROSEAU		  [ 117 undervotes] Franken +  37.31, Coleman +  67.03, change F  -29.72
MCLEOD		  [ 159 undervotes] Franken +  47.00, Coleman +  75.40, change F  -28.39
CROW WING	  [ 398 undervotes] Franken + 152.39, Coleman + 180.24, change F  -27.85
POLK		  [ 272 undervotes] Franken + 105.44, Coleman + 132.97, change F  -27.53
DOUGLAS 	  [ 218 undervotes] Franken +  75.42, Coleman + 102.84, change F  -27.43
BECKER		  [ 227 undervotes] Franken +  83.32, Coleman + 110.68, change F  -27.36
ISANTI		  [ 184 undervotes] Franken +  60.91, Coleman +  87.90, change F  -26.98
HUBBARD 	  [ 131 undervotes] Franken +  44.84, Coleman +  65.57, change F  -20.73
ROCK		  [ 117 undervotes] Franken +  42.18, Coleman +  62.34, change F  -20.15
STEELE		  [ 212 undervotes] Franken +  72.17, Coleman +  92.00, change F  -19.83
BENTON		  [ 225 undervotes] Franken +  78.10, Coleman +  97.44, change F  -19.34
BROWN		  [ 131 undervotes] Franken +  42.82, Coleman +  62.03, change F  -19.21
MORRISON	  [ 173 undervotes] Franken +  58.87, Coleman +  77.72, change F  -18.84
LYON		  [ 157 undervotes] Franken +  56.70, Coleman +  74.47, change F  -17.77
KANDIYOHI	  [ 205 undervotes] Franken +  77.02, Coleman +  94.56, change F  -17.55
DODGE		  [ 129 undervotes] Franken +  43.42, Coleman +  60.85, change F  -17.42
WILKIN		  [  70 undervotes] Franken +  21.57, Coleman +  38.68, change F  -17.11
WADENA		  [  84 undervotes] Franken +  27.51, Coleman +  43.44, change F  -15.93
MARTIN		  [ 126 undervotes] Franken +  43.50, Coleman +  59.34, change F  -15.84
PENNINGTON	  [ 122 undervotes] Franken +  45.85, Coleman +  59.99, change F  -14.13
CASS		  [ 175 undervotes] Franken +  66.43, Coleman +  80.45, change F  -14.02
TODD		  [ 149 undervotes] Franken +  52.51, Coleman +  66.31, change F  -13.80
CLEARWATER	  [ 125 undervotes] Franken +  47.87, Coleman +  61.64, change F  -13.77
GOODHUE 	  [ 230 undervotes] Franken +  85.62, Coleman +  99.16, change F  -13.54
MEEKER		  [ 107 undervotes] Franken +  34.31, Coleman +  47.44, change F  -13.12
PIPESTONE	  [ 107 undervotes] Franken +  42.09, Coleman +  55.14, change F  -13.05
LAKE OF THE WOODS [  65 undervotes] Franken +  21.76, Coleman +  34.45, change F  -12.69
MARSHALL	  [ 114 undervotes] Franken +  43.29, Coleman +  55.71, change F  -12.41
REDWOOD 	  [  96 undervotes] Franken +  31.48, Coleman +  43.88, change F  -12.39
HOUSTON 	  [ 279 undervotes] Franken + 120.24, Coleman + 131.51, change F  -11.27
CLAY		  [ 502 undervotes] Franken + 214.15, Coleman + 224.20, change F  -10.06
NOBLES		  [ 168 undervotes] Franken +  69.54, Coleman +  79.26, change F   -9.73
SIBLEY		  [  56 undervotes] Franken +  15.66, Coleman +  24.98, change F   -9.32
COTTONWOOD	  [  72 undervotes] Franken +  24.69, Coleman +  33.99, change F   -9.29
FARIBAULT	  [  98 undervotes] Franken +  34.56, Coleman +  43.82, change F   -9.26
WASECA		  [ 100 undervotes] Franken +  33.91, Coleman +  42.33, change F   -8.41
MILLE LACS	  [ 156 undervotes] Franken +  58.06, Coleman +  66.11, change F   -8.05
LE SUEUR	  [ 108 undervotes] Franken +  38.33, Coleman +  45.16, change F   -6.84
KANABEC 	  [  83 undervotes] Franken +  30.22, Coleman +  35.58, change F   -5.36
WABASHA 	  [ 138 undervotes] Franken +  52.68, Coleman +  58.00, change F   -5.32
RED LAKE	  [  60 undervotes] Franken +  24.06, Coleman +  27.14, change F   -3.09
JACKSON 	  [  71 undervotes] Franken +  27.76, Coleman +  30.76, change F   -3.00
MURRAY		  [  73 undervotes] Franken +  30.30, Coleman +  32.96, change F   -2.66
LINCOLN 	  [  50 undervotes] Franken +  20.63, Coleman +  23.16, change F   -2.52
RENVILLE	  [  76 undervotes] Franken +  28.23, Coleman +  30.06, change F   -1.83
KITTSON 	  [  51 undervotes] Franken +  22.09, Coleman +  23.04, change F   -0.95
YELLOW MEDICINE   [  43 undervotes] Franken +  17.06, Coleman +  17.52, change F   -0.46
TRAVERSE	  [  35 undervotes] Franken +  14.06, Coleman +  14.49, change F   -0.43
GRANT		  [  33 undervotes] Franken +  13.49, Coleman +  13.82, change F   -0.33
BIG STONE	  [  47 undervotes] Franken +  19.61, Coleman +  19.78, change F   -0.17
POPE		  [  55 undervotes] Franken +  22.73, Coleman +  22.14, change F   +0.59
STEVENS 	  [  51 undervotes] Franken +  21.96, Coleman +  21.12, change F   +0.84
WATONWAN	  [  59 undervotes] Franken +  23.81, Coleman +  22.55, change F   +1.25
CHIPPEWA	  [  74 undervotes] Franken +  29.91, Coleman +  28.38, change F   +1.53
FILLMORE	  [ 158 undervotes] Franken +  67.97, Coleman +  65.57, change F   +2.39
BELTRAMI	  [ 314 undervotes] Franken + 140.38, Coleman + 137.47, change F   +2.91
LAC QUI PARLE	  [  56 undervotes] Franken +  23.90, Coleman +  20.95, change F   +2.95
SWIFT		  [  49 undervotes] Franken +  21.57, Coleman +  17.44, change F   +4.13
MAHNOMEN	  [  39 undervotes] Franken +  19.12, Coleman +  14.52, change F   +4.60
COOK		  [  36 undervotes] Franken +  17.68, Coleman +  12.96, change F   +4.72
NORMAN		  [  68 undervotes] Franken +  31.40, Coleman +  26.61, change F   +4.79
AITKIN		  [  99 undervotes] Franken +  43.06, Coleman +  37.39, change F   +5.67
PINE		  [ 174 undervotes] Franken +  74.73, Coleman +  67.63, change F   +7.10
KOOCHICHING	  [ 110 undervotes] Franken +  52.23, Coleman +  44.53, change F   +7.70
NICOLLET	  [ 205 undervotes] Franken +  89.32, Coleman +  78.19, change F  +11.13
BLUE EARTH	  [ 476 undervotes] Franken + 203.69, Coleman + 190.89, change F  +12.80
LAKE		  [  95 undervotes] Franken +  48.56, Coleman +  34.02, change F  +14.54
FREEBORN	  [ 254 undervotes] Franken + 112.55, Coleman +  94.78, change F  +17.77
ITASCA		  [ 268 undervotes] Franken + 129.08, Coleman + 100.35, change F  +28.73
MOWER		  [ 284 undervotes] Franken + 138.51, Coleman + 100.45, change F  +38.07
CARLTON 	  [ 196 undervotes] Franken + 105.09, Coleman +  62.68, change F  +42.41
RICE		  [ 496 undervotes] Franken + 240.62, Coleman + 175.04, change F  +65.59
WINONA		  [ 803 undervotes] Franken + 393.35, Coleman + 324.36, change F  +68.99
SAINT LOUIS	  [1482 undervotes] Franken + 815.80, Coleman + 473.50, change F +342.30
RAMSEY		  [4091 undervotes] Franken +2233.98, Coleman +1295.00, change F +938.97
HENNEPIN	  [8108 undervotes] Franken +4360.39, Coleman +2669.02, change F+1691.37

TOTAL: Franken +15619, Coleman +13956, benefit F+1663

Obviously, you can't win .37 of a vote.  This is the right way to handle the math, however, because the fractional votes tend to balance each other out: probability says that if I'm likely to win 1 ballot 1/4 of the time in 4 precincts, I may not be able to win 0.25 votes in each of the four, but I am likely to win 1 vote total among those four together.  If I just rounded off all the numbers, the results would be much less accurate.

Originally posted to bitwise on Tue Nov 11, 2008 at 08:58 AM PST.

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