Dave McCormick, trailing Mehmet Oz by 902 votes in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, faces a long chance of overtaking Oz if history is any indication.
Pennsylvania’s secretary of state announced on Wednesday that all 67 counties must recount ballots in the May 17 primary involving McCormick and Oz, as election results show the two are separated by less than 0.1% of the more than 1.3 million votes cast.
That’s well below the 0.5% threshold by which Pennsylvania’s election code requires a recount of all votes.
“This automatic recount is intended to ensure that the count is accurate and that there is confidence in the counts and results,” Pennsylvania Secretary of State Leigh Chapman said. “I thank everyone for their patience as we count every vote.”
Chapman said counties will have May 27 to June 7 to recount votes in the Senate race. Counties must report their results by noon on June 8.
But despite the razor-thin margin separating Oz and McCormick, a national study of elections from 2000 to 2019 found only three instances in which the leader was passed by the second-place candidate. In each of those elections, the initial margin separating the candidates was much closer than the margin separating the candidates in the Republican primary this month.
“It’s common to expect some votes to change when you do a manual recount. In this case the candidates are separated by about 1,000 votes and in this case we should expect a change of about 100 votes,” said Deb Otis of FairVote. in an interview on Wednesday. “It’s possible, but definitely an uphill battle for David McCormick.”
Otis, who is a senior research analyst at the nonpartisan organization FairVote, authored a 2020 study that looked at the past 20 years of statewide elections in the United States. .
Only 31 times has a statewide race been recounted. Of those, three saw the original leader give up the advantage and lose the election, Otis said. Each had initial margins of less than 0.05%, according to his study.
The difference between Oz and McCormick is about 0.09%.
None of the three recorded a vote shift from one candidate to another of more than 225 votes, according to the FairVote study.
In Pennsylvania, seven recounts have taken place since the turn of the century, Chapman, the secretary of state, said Tuesday. Only one of those seven was a statewide race. In 2009, a state Superior Court election was subject to a recount. The results were not voided after the recount.
The eventual winner of the Senate race will face Democratic nominee John Fetterman in the November general election.
For all the candidates, issues and important dates voters should know in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, go to NBC10 Decision 2022 page. You’ll find tools to help you navigate the midterm elections, including when to vote and who will be on your ballots in the November primaries and general elections.