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FiveThirtyEight: Coleman will regret court challenge

We’ve all had a bit of fun watching national stat pundit Nate Silver tack around whether Norm Coleman or Al Franken will win the recount. But today, he has a pretty strong analysis of Coleman’s case before the Supreme Court today.

Although Silver is a liberal, his read is not unkind to Norm. He sees merit in Coleman’s argument that the state violates constitutional equal protection guarantees if some counties don’t count improperly rejected absentee ballots (aka the “fifth pile”). Some will, some won’t, and it means voters in “counting counties” are treated differently than in “non-counting” places.

However, Silver asserts that a Coleman legal victory will almost certainly be Pyrrhic. Though Norm wants the Supremes to keep the fifth pile out of the canvass, justices are more likely to standardize counting procedures. That will get all fifth-pile votes into the canvass — which Franken wants. Concludes Silver:

Coleman could very conceivably win his lawsuit, but have it work to his ultimate detriment if the end result is a more complete and comprehensive review of the absentee ballots. Until and unless Coleman comes up with some arguments why the rejected absentee ballots should not be counted at all, he is likely spinning his wheels, regardless of what the court rules today.

I would only add this: Coleman is taking a longshot chance that the Supremes will keep these votes out of the canvass because — even though a subsequent “judicial contest” is inevitable — the Canvass Board-certified winner has an enormous PR advantage and could well be seated even as court cases drag on.

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