Analyst: Franken, Coleman may battle into February
David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Published: Monday December 22, 2008

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A Minnesota Supreme Court justice has predicted "an extended legal contest" in the Minnesota senate race, no matter which way the final recount between Democratic challenger Al Franken and incumbent Normal Coleman goes, and election analyst Nate Silver of agrees.

"There are any number of grounds on which you can challenge an election," Silver told MSNBC's Contessa Brewer on Monday. "So far, people have been pretty well behaved, but if Al Franken wins by 12 votes, Norm Coleman will probably sue. If the reverse is true, then Al Franken will probably sue. We may not have a senator seated until mid-January or February."

Franken is currently leading by 250 votes, but Silver believes that Coleman is likely to gain about 200 votes as challenged ballots are resolved, while Franken may get back 50 from the absentee ballots.

The Franken camp itself believes it will end up with a margin of 35 to 50 votes, which Brewer noted is amazingly close to Silver's own prediction of a month ago, in an entry at his website titled "Franken Projected To Win Recount By 27 Votes"

Silver, however, acknowledged cheerfully that although "we called it for him back in November, at other points we said it looks better for Coleman." He told Brewer, "We waffled before so we can have you say, 'this great prediction made in November.'"

"You've just called us out on the air," Brewer exclaimed, "saying that we would just pick what the prediction was on any given day."

"Exactly," Silver replied.

This video is from MSNBC's News Live, broadcast Dec. 22, 2008.

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