Recount Protip

Team Trump and the WI recount.

Via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Milwaukee County presidential recount wraps up with Biden adding to his margin over Trump.

Milwaukee County’s recount of the presidential election vote tally came to an end Friday, with Democratic President-elect Joe Biden adding 132 votes to his margin of victory over President Donald Trump in Milwaukee County.  

In all, Biden gained 257 votes and Trump added 125. The results came Friday evening, seven days after the effort to recount nearly 460,000 ballots cast in the county began at the downtown Wisconsin Center. The final tally totaled 459,723.

This was part of a targetted recount requested and paid for by the Trump campaign.

The recounts have to be completed by Tuesday, in time for the state Elections Commission to certify the results by a deadline for that day set in state law.

Trump’s campaign paid $3 million for the partial recount in the Nov. 3 presidential election, requesting a retallying of the votes only in the state’s largest and most liberal counties of Milwaukee and Dane.

The Dane County count is not yet done.

Here’s the thing, which struck me immediately when I read about these recounts: if you are looking to increase your vote totals and you are a Republican, you don’t selectively recount the most Democratic counties in the state. Such an action is almost guaranteed to find more votes for the Democrat if there are any votes that were not yet counted.4

After all, there is a reason that the Gore campaign wanted to recount heavily Democratic counties in 2000, as opposed to the whole state.

It is basic probability. If the population you are sampling is known to consist of a higher percentage of X than Y, then any corrected error in recounting is likely to result in more X being found than Y (because there is more X period).

If you counted baseball fans nationally and then decided to recount only Boston, then odds are that your recount would find a few more Red Sox fans than, say, Texas Rangers fans.

Despite their clearly nefarious goals, the clownosity of Team Trump continues to astonish and amaze.

This was a huge waste of $3 million.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, Donald Trump, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. gVOR08 says:

    Indeed a waste of 3 million, but for once not the taxpayers’ 3 million.

    Your analysis is correct, assuming rare random errors. They were believing their own BS, hoping to find large systematic errors from Dominion machines, urban Black people, and gawd knows what. And they found a handful of random errors. Hoocoodanode.

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  2. gVOR08 says:

    That flag always reminds me of Obama campaigning in 2008. He made an appearance in Wisconsin and some RW writer made a big deal out that socialist Obama decorating his stage with flags from some union local 1848. There was a similar episode complaining about Obama being so vain he had the stage decorated with flags with his initial. (That speech was in Ohio.)

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  3. de stijl says:

    IBEW local 1848 was likely pretty stoked for an hour or so until it was corrected.

    Union now. Union forever.

    One of my dearest oldest friends is an organizer. Was. He’s pretty high up the ladder now. Hard year. Restaurant and convention workers got killed by Covid.

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  4. de stijl says:

    There is going to be a tsunami of evictions soon.

    It will be brutal.

    We are not prepared.

    Homelessness is going to explode.

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  5. ImProPer says:

    “Here’s the thing, which struck me immediately when I read about these recounts: if you are looking to increase your vote totals and you are a Republican, you don’t selectively recount the most Democratic counties in the state. Such an action is almost guaranteed to find more votes for the Democrat if there are any votes that were not yet counted.”

    Respectfully Dr. Taylor, in looking for strategies you are neglecting one of the most profound laws of philosophy, Trump’s razor; “ascertain the stupidest possible
    scenario that can be reconciled with the available facts.”

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  6. Michael Cain says:

    @gVOR08:

    They were believing their own BS, hoping to find large systematic errors from Dominion machines, urban Black people, and gawd knows what.

    Add to that an apparent belief that the county officials and election workers responsible for the original “fraud” aren’t competent to reproduce it during a recount. What did they think would change?

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  7. Raoul says:

    Though allowed by Florida law, Gore asking for a recount for only 3 counties was a strategic mistake (it gave a pretext for the S. Ct. to intervene -to be clear, they were going to one way or the other) and even worse, a political mistake- a statewide recount would be seen as fair but not a 3 county recount- the Florida law that allowed this was ridiculous but what do you expect from Republicans.

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  8. Richard Gardner says:

    I live in WA, where the 2004 Gov election was a fiasco (ballot boxes being found days later in poll workers cars (chain of custody?), entire Alzheimers facilities voting (Snohomish) and the Dem Governor only winning by a few hundred votes on the 2nd recount, after losing on the 1st count and first recount). First time I ever heard the term “systemic voter fraud,” as in the system was so broken that it allowed lots of small errors (not Trumpian accusations of organized voter fraud). There was a bipartisan agreement to fix it, to restore voter confidence (sorry, an illegal vote that negates mine is just as bad as voter suppression – goes both ways).
    My point is there is trouble in River City (old musical references) and voters aren’t confident in the system.
    I seriously think we need improvements in voting (and forget the BS I see on Facebook about picture ID, living in a mail in state).

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  9. Kathy says:

    “I spent $3,000,000 on a recount and all I got was a bigger loss.”

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  10. @Raoul: BTW, I agree that the Gore move was a mistake–but at least one can understand what they were trying to do.

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  11. @Richard Gardner: blockquote>I seriously think we need improvements in voting

    Agreed.

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