Something's rotten in the state of Denmark

Monday, November 22, 2004

Why a hand recount in Ohio helps John Kerry

Olbermann's co-hort at MSNBC (though not necessarily his fellow traveler), David Shuster, has this interesting Hardblogger post about Ohio provisional ballots.

Shuster explains why a hand recount -- which will involve a visual examination of all 93,000 "spoiled ballots" that indicated "no" vote for President in machine tabulation -- might help John Kerry.... because the Matthew Fox anlaysis of counties reporting "spoiled ballots" revealed that 60 percent of all the spoiled ballots come from heavily Democratic urban areas.

That's good news for Kerry. But how much good news? Shuster:

Can the "provisional ballots" and "spoiled ballots" change the Ohio outcome?  As it stands, the difference between President Bush and John Kerry is 136,483 votes. When John Kerry decided to concede, here is some of the math his campaign looked at:

If you assume, for the sake of argument, that Kerry receives 80 percent of the 130,000 provisional ballots most observers expect will be validated... Kerry would receive 104,000 votes and President Bush would get 26,000.  That's a net gain for John Kerry of 78,000.  At that point, the margin between President Bush and Senator Kerry would drop to 58,000 votes. 

Now, let's assume a preference can be determined on all 93,000 spoiled ballots.  And let's also assume John Kerry receives 80% and President Bush receives 20%.  John Kerry would receive 74,400 votes and President Bush would receive 18,600 votes.  That's another net gain for John Kerry of 55,800.  However, that still  leaves John Kerry 3,000 votes short.  And remember, the theory that Kerry is going to receive 80% of all provisional and "spoiled" ballots is not realistic.  As the Kerry campaign noted on November 3, "the votes are just not going to be there."

So Shuster's approximation -- generously assuming that Kerry gets 80% of the provisional ballots and 80% of the spoiled ballots -- still winds up with Kerry probably coming up short. Unless there did happen to be some kind of hacking going on the Windows systems that tabulated the county by county vote. Or if there were other glitches. Or if Warren County had some funny business going on. Either way, let the recount happen, so questions are answered once and for all.

Update: a RD reader writes: "yes Shuster says Kerrry would come up 3,000 votes short in his scenario - but then Shuster forgot to subtract the 3,800 extra votes Bush was awarded by a friendly touch-screen machine in Ohio - so that's Kerry by 800 - and we're in Floridian territory, where we, truth be told, probably belong." At first, this looked funny to me -- but it actually makes sense. If Shuster didn't factor in those 3,800 votes from that Franklin County glitch -- well, this would make Ohio damn close. Such that I'm going to make a new post of it!