The close Republican U.S. Senate primary pits the GOP establishment against the Tea Party Movement. Tea Party favorite and Palin-endorsed Joe Miller is ahead of establishment-backed Lisa Murkowski by 1,668 votes. But 23,000 absentee ballots have not been counted. For Murkowski to wipe out Miller’s lead and win the election she needs 12,335 of those 23,000 votes, or 53.63% of the total.
There were 92,386 total votes cast in the Republican primary between Murkowski and Miller, with Miller receiving 50.9% and Murkowski 49.1%. For her to get 53.63% of the remaining 23,000 votes would seem to be a statistical improbability bordering on an impossibility. The first 92,000 votes constitutes a poll with a margin or error near zero given the size of the sample. Murkowski will have to cheat in order to win.
On the other hand, it is said that Miller gained momentum in the last two weeks of the election, and it is presumed that the absentee ballots were cast before that. The number of absentee ballots is already becoming a comic joke. It started at 7500, then it was 15,000, now the 23,000 figure I used, but some accounts have it at close to 26,000. At this rate the absentee ballots will soon exceed the polling booth ballots.
The constantly changing number of absentee ballots brings to mind the constantly changing number of newly-discovered ballots in the Al Franken-Norm Coleman debacle during the recount of the Minnesota Senate election in 2008, and may signal that election shenanigans have already begun. Assuming a Republican win over Democrat Scott MacAdams, which seems likely, will Lisa Murkowski become the Republican version of Al Franken in the U.S. Senate? Would that suit the GOP establishment who, apparently, badly misses Ted Stevens?
UPDATE: Murkowski threw in the towel after the first 9500 absentee ballots were counted without significantly reducing Miller’s lead. This his how an honest recount would be expected to go, even in a close race a recount seldom changes the outcome unless it’s done by Democrats in Minnesota, Washington state or Florida (Democrats came close in Florida but didn’t cheat quite enough).
Murkowski is to be commended for doing the right thing.