In any event, more people seem to like Al Franken than who voted for him ... if we compare the 42% of the vote he got with the 49% approval rating he now has. (details)
This is partly a function of increased favorablity following the nasty recount process, but is also reminds us of something else: There was a third candidate in this race. If Dean Barkley was not in this race, would the outcome have been so close? And, who would have won?
The common knowledge on the street at the time of the election is that about two thirds of Barkley's votes would have been for Franken had Barkley not been in the race. In addition, Franken was advancing on Coleman for the last several weeks. In other words, if the election was held three weeks later, OR if Barkley was not in the race, Franken would have had a decisive if not overwhelming victory. If both were true, Franken would have taken Coleman out by a landslide.
This is why I've been so frequently annoyed at calls to "just do it over" or statements that "no one really won" and so on. Franke was behind. Franken came from behind and passed colement.
In addition, consider this: If Franken was moving in on the vote count, then what about absentee votes cast days or weeks before the election? Wouldn't more of those have been Franken votes had they been cast on election day?
This is a case of shoulda, coulda, woulda. It is pointless.
He will do a good job, or not, and next time people will get to vote on that job performance.
Bob, it is not pointless as long as people keep complaining that he only won by 300 points, that is was essentially an even election, tha the didn't really win, etc. etc.
Otherwise it is pretty pointless.
Franken did, I'm sure, garner some sympathy from those who recognized that Coleman's protracted, pointless challenges were an insult to fellow citizens. But even in the short time he has been "on the job", Frnken has handled himself very well. I was especially pleased to see that he used humor very effectively in the Sotomayor hearings. Fresh air in an otherwise stale, stifling environmnet. Go Al!
There was a third party? Jeez. I had no idea. Sucks that he acted as such a spoiler for Al, as he brought him within a hair's breadth of losing to Coleman's shenanigans.
Can we get a more sensible electoral system please. "Instant runoff" or some other variety of ranking system would do a much better job assessing the "will of the electorate" than the insanely crappy (and archaic) plurality system we use now.
Yeah, every electoral system (I know of at least) has some weaknesses and potential pathologies. However, the probability of those coming into play for most ranking voting systems is much much much smaller than for plurality.
Oh, and could we actually have some people who understand measurement and statistics involved? The Colman-Franken election was similar to Bush-Gore in Florida (though a bit less dramatically clear). It is quite clear to a high confidence who won on an 'intent of the voters' basis. (In Bush-Gore the differential error rates of voting equipment alone put the "true" results in Gore's favor to a high certainty.)
PS: FiveThirtyEight.com had a good analysis way back when basically pointing out that the race was almost certainly not really "close", but hinged (quite non-linearly) on how many ballots were not initially counted but where the 'intent of the voter' could be deduced. IE: Actually count the votes more accurately and Franken would win decisively. (Sorry no link... I can't find the original post anymore.)
One more thing... plurality voting systems tend to lead to candidates with an relatively extremist "base" getting elected. That is a bad thing IMO.
Single transferable vote (STV) is the way ahead. All those votes for a third party would have been transferred to the two leaders. Franken would have won easily. Democracy would have been served. In November.