Most analysts have a assumed that Al Franken stands to gain ground if an estimated 1,600 improperly rejected absentee ballots are counted in the Minnesota Senate. Nate Silver notes that a pre-election poll (PDF) showed Franken up by 8 percent among absentee voters, which according to what he calls a “crude estimate,” would mean a net gain of 128 votes for Franken — a substantial portion of his 192-vote deficit. However, the poll was conducted by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling, and it also showed Al Franken with an overall lead of 5 points in the Senate race. Given that Franken’s general level of support was substantially overstated in the poll, it likely overstated his support among absentee voters as well. The Franken campaign wants these votes to be counted and the Coleman campaign does not — after all, in a recount, it’s always the team that’s behind that wants to expand the universe of ballots and the winning side that wants to freeze them in place — but until we get a better idea of how the absentee ballots in question are distributed among the counties, there’s no empirical reason to believe that Franken actually would make significant gains, even if they were counted.
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