Marc Caputo at Politico penned a piece last night that has some harsh realities for incumbent Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson as the recount in Florida continues.

Despite all the lawsuits Nelson has filed, experts believe he will come up short to Republican Governor Rick Scott.

Caputo wrote:

Nelson has two major problems, experts say: Nelson’s lawsuits were filed so late and courts generally frown on last-minute post-election changes, and the margin he trails Scott by is so big that even expanding the pool of available ballots to count makes it highly unlikely that Nelson could make up enough ground.

“A royal flush is right on the money. Nelson would have to have a perfect hand,” said Michael Morley, a Florida State University election law professor, echoing two other experts who spoke to POLITICO.

“He would have to win in every case. And even then, it would not seem to be enough to change the outcome,” Morley said. “One study that I’ve seen shows that in the 21st Century, there have only been three statewide races that have had their results changed as a result of a recount. And in each of those races, the margins were in the hundreds, not more than 12,000.”

Scott leads Nelson by 12,000 votes, which is a 0.15% advantage. The state requires at the most a 0.25% deficit in order to have a manual recount.

Even CNN crunched the numbers and wrote that “Bill Nelson needs a miracle” to come out a winner against Scott:

According to a FairVote database of statewide recounts from 2000 to 2015, the average recount moves the margin by 0.02 points. Nelson needs the margin to move by nearly eight times as much.

The recount with the largest shift was the Vermont Auditor of Accounts race in 2006. The margin shifted in that by 0.11 points, which is still less than what Nelson needs.

CNN noted that only “3 of the 27 elections (11%) examined by FairVote” changed the loser to a winner. Former Democrat Sen. Al Franken won his 2008 seat after a recount, but those numbers came out differently than Nelson’s. Republican Norm Coleman only had a 215 vote lead, which is 0.01 points. Franken won by 225 votes (less than 0.01 points). That means the shift involved only 440 votes or less than 0.02 points.”

Florida rejected 7,871 votes for “voter error,” including “mismatched signatures on the ballots compared to what’s on file with the state.” Out of those ballots:

  • 35% Republicans
  • 36% Democrats
  • 29% independents

The state rejected 10,186 ballots because the envelopes arrived unsigned. Out of those ballots:

  • 31% Republicans
  • 44% Democrats
  • 24% independents

Caputo mentioned that “Nelson would have to win 85 percent of them statewide in an election where he couldn’t get 50 percent of the vote so far.” Caputo continued:

On Wednesday, the state’s elections division director provided more specificity when she testified in Nelson’s signature mismatch suit by revealing that 3,688 mail-in absentee ballots and another 93 provisional ballots were rejected for mismatches by 45 counties, a count that didn’t include the large counties of Miami-Dade or Duval.

“It’s a rabbit out of a hat. But there’s not enough rabbit,” one Republican lawyer involved in the recount who spoke to POLITICO on the condition of anonymity said of Nelson’s strategy and predicament.

The lawsuit over mismatched signatures for absentee ballots was heard Wednesday in federal court in Tallahassee. Nelson’s campaign has also sued over deadlines for the receipt of absentee ballots, standards for divining voter intent and the deadline to finish the recount.


Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has asked Nelson to stop the lawsuits.

Nelson has filed lawsuits to extend the deadlines, stop “election officials from rejecting unconventionally marked ballots,” and to get “copies of vote-by-mail ballots received via email or fax.”