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27 VOTES….Nate Silver says that in Minnesota precincts where no challenges have been raised, Al Franken is gaining votes. In precincts with more challenges, he’s not doing as well:

In other words, the fewer the number of challenged ballots, the better Franken is doing….We can address this phenomenon more systematically by means of a regression analysis….The independent variables considered in the regression are as follows: t…c_f…c_c…In addition, the regression analysis contains interaction terms between each combination of two variables, as well as an interaction term for all three variables.

….Now, we can attempt to solve this equation at the statewide level. When we plug in a t of .499956 — Franken was picked on just slightly very less than half of the ballots during the initial count — we get a value for franken_net of .837. That is, Franken will gain a net of .837 votes for every 10,000 cast. With a total of 2,885,555 ballots having been recorded in the initial count, this works out to a projected gain of 242 votes for Franken statewide. Since Norm Coleman led by 215 votes in the initial count, this suggests that Franken will win by 27 votes once the recount process is complete (including specifically the adjudication of all challenged ballots).

I will just say this. If this turns out to be right — if Al Franken really does win by 27 votes — then I suggest we eliminate elections entirely and simply allow Nate Silver to tell us who our congressional and presidential winners are in the future. It would be a lot cheaper, and probably just as accurate.

POSTSCRIPT: Nate weasels a bit at the end, warning us that “the error bars on this regression analysis are fairly high.” Sure, sure. I’m not buying. Franken by 27 votes, my friends.

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