Pat Bainter, David Johnson, Jackie Lee, and thirteen other political consultants compete in “Man vs. Machine” contest

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Remember the Deep Blue v. Gary Kasparov matchups in which the world’s greatest chess champion squared off against a computer? Think that — but for political forecasting. Florida’s political data guru, Brecht Heuchan, launched a new product called Decision Link that offers election prediction tools. And he is testing it against sixteen of the state’s most savvy political observers.

The sixteen chosen pundits represent a bipartisan mix of colorful, skilled players: Pat Bainter, Chip Case, Joe Clements, Ana Cruz, David Custin, Mike Grissom, David Johnson, Jackie Lee, Anthony Pedicini, Travis Peterson, Marc Reichelderfer, Jim Rimes, Steve Schale, Ryan Tyson, Steve Vancore and Ashley Walker.

Each of the players compete against Decision Link  in the first “Man v. Machine” contest. They do so by choosing winners in the state’s 46 primary election contests, of which 30 are Republican and 16 are Democrat; and 57 general election contests, 52 of which are for House seats and 5 for Senate.

Heuchan built some tie-breakers into the mix, too: estimates for the Florida’s governor’s race, the fate of Amendment 2, and turnout in the general election rounded to the nearest tenth — as well as a final lynchpin if needed, the percent (miniscule as it may be) of Nan Rich’s vote percentage.

According to Heuchan’s run of ballots so far, however, a tiebreaker may not be needed. So far, these sixteen players have not submitted an identical first or second ballots — and in fact, no player has submitted an identical first and second ballot him or herself. This means that every player has made at least one change in their second ballot.

Further, of the races, only one tie is in place at the moment: that between HD 15 candidates Paul Renner and Jay Fant, with eight votes a piece. In HD 31, Randy Glisson consolidated his lead adding another vote from the #1 ballot but two other candidates are still in the mix, according to the voting pundits. The Democratic primary in HD 61 saw some tightening up, too, with Shaw getting 11 votes down from 12 in the first ballot, against Ed Narain.

Mike Grissom and Marc Reichelderfer have dropped the most similar ballots so far, with just one difference; and Steve Vancore had only two differences from each of them — showing that partisanship isn’t the driving factor in how pundits view races. Jim Rimes and Pat Bainter had a two selection difference; and Chip Case, Ryan Tyson, and David Custon have just three differences between them. Steve Schale and Jackie Lee also have two differences between them.

The most unalike ballots were cast by Travis Peterson and Joe Clements, with sixteen differences. Indeed, Peterson’s “difference” count was the highest of all — with no fewer than 9 differences with any other voter. The Peterson/Clements mismatch was followed by Ana Cruz and Clements with 14 differences. Ashley Walker’s closest compatriot was Steve Schale with five differences.

As primary season ends tomorrow, we’ll have our first chance to see whether man or machine wins out in predicting this first round of electoral wins. The intrigue of this — along with the stakes (cash for the winner’s charity of choice) — make it a must to watch unfold.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.