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It would seem to me that Google is trying to find web pages that a lot of people are referring to.
If you have 3000 middlemen referring to OfficialWidgets then you'd think that Google would want OfficialWidgets to rank high.
Also, we know Google follows redirects so it would be a minor engineering technical feat.
It also helps deal with a lot of websites with nothing but affiliate links.
Why wouldn't Google transfer PR via affiliate links?
You would think that your logic is correct... an affiliate link is pointing a web user to another website, and essentially voting for the target page, even the link passes through an affiliate marketing program provider, it ends up redirecting to the target product page. The original affliate link doesn't point to a page at the affiliate program provider, just a script that leaves a cookie and redirects to the product page.
I don't know the answer for sure... but I would think the PR would be passed along. The PR of some of the biggest affiliate program providers (CJ, Regnow) is only 7, so they certainly are not getting the PR from their affiliate marketer's links.