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Dayton v. Emmer

It’s time to move beyond polls and look at potential vote totals in the Governors race.

Believe it or not, this should be very predictable. Over the last two elections, approximately 2,200,000 voters cast their ballots in both 2002 and 2006. In fact, the vote total actually went down about 50,000 votes from 2002 to 2006. About a million voters went for Pawlenty in 2006, about a million for Hatch, and about 150,000 votes went to Hutchinson.  In presidential election years, turnout is higher. Coleman and Franken each got about 1.2 million votes, and Dean Barkley got 437,000 votes. This represents the vote total ceiling.

Dayton will get a million votes. That’s easy. That’s the DFL base. There won’t be much more on top of that, perhaps 50,000 to 100,000 votes. Peter Hutchinson will get 200,000 to 250,000 votes. His support has varied widely, but has consistently been stronger than Hutchinson’s in ’06. He looks more like Penny in 2002, who got 360,000+ votes in 2002. Horner is no Tim Penny, but 250,000 votes is very plausible.

With Dayton topping out at 1.1 million, and Horner topping out at 250,000 votes, this leaves less than a million voters for Emmer. About 900,000 votes.

Past results are not destiny. Dayton is not a popular character. It’s completely possible that, in this environment, he will struggle to get a million votes as frustrated Democrats stay home. But Emmer is also hurting from the beating he has taken in this election. Can he find an extra 200,000 votes? Sure. I wouldn’t bank on it, but this is an unusual election cycle. Emmer should be able to match Pawlenty’s total in 2002.

Still, any way I look at it, I see an election that will, in the best circumstance, be decided in Emmer’s favor by less than 50,000 votes. This race is not a coin flip. I give Dayton a solid 70% win probability.

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