Unexpectedly Intriguing!
29 December 2004

It never fails. I leave my computer behind for a few days to celebrate Christmas, and when I get back, I find that the folks at both Sound Politics and Pull on Superman's Cape (linked below) have been crunching numbers to calculate the probabilities of having the Washington State governor's race turn out the way it has to date, albeit with Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. Of the two, I strongly recommend reading the detailed instructions posted at Pull on Superman's Cape, which I have used to create the Recounting Odds calculator, presented below:

Republican Candidate Vote Data
Democratic Candidate Vote Data

Calculated Values, Percentages and Probability
Total Number of Votes Counted in the Original Tally
Total Number of Votes Counted in the Recount
Percentages and Probabilities for the Republican Candidate
Percentages and Probabilities for the Democratic Candidate
Probability Results
Overall Odds of these Changes Occurring

As noted in the Pull on Superman's Cape article, the odds calculated from each consecutive recount may be multiplied together to determine the overall chances of the reported outcomes occurring consecutively, which in the case the of the Washington governor's race, was found to be 17,650,517 to 1. The following list of the relative odds of certain events occurring is hereby presented for your reference and your entertainment:

Relative Odds
Possible Events Odds of Occuring
Being Audited by the IRS 175 to 1
Writing a New York Times Bestseller 220 to 1
Dating a Supermodel 88,000 to 1
Being Struck by Lightning 576,000 to 1
Getting a Royal Flush on the First Five Cards Dealt 649,740 to 1
Winning the California Lottery 13,000,000 to 1
Dying from a Shark Attack 300,000,000 to 1
Having a Meteor Land on Your House 182,138,880,000,000 to 1

Update: I should have done this earlier, but the odds calculated by Stefan Sharkansky at Sound Politics of having the 59 vote "flip" is 32,258,064,516,129 to 1, which is roughly about six times more likely than having a meteor land on your house....

Welcome to the blogosphere's toolchest! Here, unlike other blogs dedicated to analyzing current events, we create easy-to-use, simple tools to do the math related to them so you can get in on the action too! If you would like to learn more about these tools, or if you would like to contribute ideas to develop for this blog, please e-mail us at:

ironman at politicalcalculations.com

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