Friday, January 21, 2005

Lashing Out

It's been a rough week. The Inauguration. Accepting that the Denver Broncos are not in the NFL Playoffs. No NHL Hockey. Crappy weather. I was feeling like I wanted to start an argument. So, that's exactly what I did.

It all started with this posting on another blog. I have posted comments here before. The guy that writes the site is actually quite open to having good debate and discussion, which despite our obvious difference of opinion, makes him pretty damned cool in my book. You can read his post, and my comments on his posting to get the gist. The writer in the blog and the author of the article he cites in the posting are trying to say that Bush is making huge gains across every state and demographic group in the U.S. I obviously think they both need to take a statistics class.

I have been hearing it a lot since the election, but even more with the inauguration this week that Republicans are overwhelmingly taking over the country. To write it makes me cry a little tear (because midgets can't make big tears). And of course he throws in a little comment at the end that the mainstream media won't address this trend, because of the overwhelming liberal bias in the mainstream media. Because Republicans haven't said that enough times.

The problem, as a stated in my rebuttal on his website, with the idea that Republicans are making huge gains across the country is based on flawed statistics. Bear with me. The author of the article cited on world debate is comparing 2000 election data with 2004 election data. Roughly 100 million ( or a little more than 1/3 of the US population 18 and older) people voted in 2000. 120 million (or about 20% more for you math majors out there) voted for President in 2004. Bush lost the popular vote in 2000 with just over 50 million votes, but won the electoral college. In 2004, Bush won the popular vote with 59 million votes.

The guy writing the article would say based on these figures that Bush increased his percentage of votes by 18%, which is absolutely true. The problem is that because so many more people voted in 2004 than in 2000, it doesn't really tell you anything about the outcome of the election, and in fact, it only amounted to a 2% increase in the percentage of total votes for the President. If Ralph Nader had an 18% increase in the total number of votes he received in 2000, he still wouldn't have had enough votes to have beaten the guy that was elected Governor of Indiana.

The author wants us to believe that it means that there is a huge demographic shift taking place, when really it's just showing us that more people voted. As I pointed out in my comments, 56 million people voted for John Kerry in 2004 than voted for either Gore or Bush in 2000. I wouldn't say, based on that line of reasoning, that the Democrats are increasing in their strength, but rather it's just a simple fact that more people voted. That's really all percentages are good for demonstrating.

It's a completely misleading way of presenting statistics, because percentages are based on their relative sample size. He claims that Bush made gains with Hispanics, but he doesn't take into account that the overall number of Hispanics who voted in 2004 was significantly higher overall than in 2000. Of course Bush did better among Hispanics than he did in 2000. John Kerry also did better than Al Gore with Hispanic voters. Not because of some change or trend, but because more people voted, and when you look at percentages, you're looking at parts of a total number.

It's quite troubling when you start thinking about it, that this is how Republicans analyze things. They want to scare people into thinking that the country is shifting towards their favor, which it may or may not be. The problem isn't the idea, but rather the fact that they can't find statistics to back it up, unless they distort how those statistics are presented. For an educated person, like the one who apparently wrote that article, it's pretty damned irresponsible to make those sorts of claims, and not to explain how you get to your conclusions.

Did I mention that I am in a bad mood today?

4 comments:

Lord Bling said...

Well, if you're still in a bad mood this coming Tuesday, get on Xbox Live around 7:00 Central time and play some Halo 2 with my buddies and I. We've been playing every Tuesday now for a while, and as a team, we're getting a lot better. So you can always jump in and help us own some noobs....

On the Mark said...

Hey Ryan...okay...I'll take the bait. I'm the guy whose site you posted on. I appreciate the note that I'm "cool" for the openness to debate. Feeling much the same about you bro. I do appreciate the spirited exchange. But I am awaiting your response to my immediate response to your factually incorrect tirade on my blog.

Here's a bit of our exchange, not shared with your readers here, wherein you make completely erroneous statements about the popular vote in the 1996 Presidential election.

Ryan the Angry Midget: "First of all, the author states that we haven't elected a President with a popular majority since 1988. I guess he missed the 1996 election where Bob Dole got his Viagra-taking ass handed to him and Bill Clinton won almost 60% of the popular vote."

On the Mark: "Here's a link to the statistics on the 1996 elections. http://www.multied.com/elections/1996pop.html According to this, Clinton won only 50% (not a "majority'). And this was against a man that I personally consider one of the worst Republican candidates EVER to run. I'm still stunned that anyone ever thought he had a chance. Amazingly, with Perot at 8%, Dole might have had a chance if it was just a two man race. And actually, if you dig a bit deeper as I did, the New York Times will tell you that Clinton won only 49% of the popular vote. Here's the quote and the link if you feel the need to authenticate my research (I'm okay with being fact checked): "Of those who did vote, just over 49 percent supported Clinton, 41 percent supported Dole and 8.5 percent supported Ross Perot, the independent candidate making his second run for the presidency." http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/specials/elections/1996/index.html That's a "special" from the New York Times on the 1996 Presidential Election. So...apparently, while Dole lost, he didn't as you so eloquently put it, get "his Viagra-taking ass handed to him and Bill Clinton won almost 60% of the popular vote." Where are you getting your stats? I'm happy to compare. But honestly...I just went out and researched the hell out of it because I respected your opinion enough to see if I had in fact been duped. I can't find anyone, anywhere on the web that supports your statements here."

So...there ya have it. There's more, but not necessary to go into it.

Gotta tell ya though...we may disagree, but I like your blog, and even like your postings on mine. I do like the image of Dole getting his "Viagra taking ass handed to him" even though Clinton didn't even win a popular majority, let alone the 60% you cited. You have a way with words and are a welcome poster on my blog any day my friend.

You state that I should take a statistics class...but you might want to make sure you have your own facts straight before going so aggressively on the attack. I'm happy to be proven wrong...that means I learn something. But in this case, it's not happening.

Oh yeah, though we're on different ends of the political spectrum...I feel for you. I found the Clinton years somewhat frustrating. But trust me...the Democrats fell, and the Republicans will too. It's all cyclical...thank goodness. Too long and too strong of any one party in power is not good for the country in my opinion.

http://worlddebate.blogspot.com

rysolag said...

Hi,

--- www.blogladder.com ---

It's a site I'm trying to get off it's feet. This is a generic message but it is posted by a human not a program. You can change the colors at the bottom of the home page. Your entries are likely to get more comments becuase it is a community blogging site.

peace - please check it out.

CowboyLaw said...

Time to put my oar in the water.

So, round about the election, Amy and I (she of the goat-porn fetish uncovered in earlier posts to the Midget's blod) were listening to a typical conservative explain, patiently, why it is that, unless we make gay marriages unconstitutional, God Almighty is likely to unleash a series of earthquakes and firestorms which will sink our sinful country into at least the 4th level of hell (for everyone out there who's counting, the 4th level is the hoarders and the spendthrifts--Canto VII from Inferno). Amy expressed her shock (as a Minnesota liberal and a Grinnell grad who isn't usually exposed to the hatespeech of the truly ignorant) that (1) there are people like this out there in our country, and (2) they seem to be gaining power. I will share with you what I told her in a rare moment of clarity.

I promise you that there will come a time, in our lifetime, when people like the one Amy and I were listening to (on NPR, by the way) will be lumped together by history with the people who patiently explained why blacks and whites should not be allowed to marry. The arguments used in both debates are remarkably the same (sin against nature, sin against God, immoral, contrary to the traditional definition of marriage, offensive, gross, etc. etc.). And the Republicans lost that one. And they'll lose this one. Our country, and the world as a whole, has been getting progressively more liberal (or progressively more progressive) for pretty much its entire history. And the trend continues. Bush II is a historical burp (who wouldn't even be president except for the archconservatives at the Supreme Court), aided by the unfortunate-for-us, fortunate-for-him timing of the 9/11 attacks (without which he never would have be reelected). And he is nothing more.

Anyone who says this country has gotten more conservative is either thinking really short term (i.e., more conservative now than it was in 1998), or is hallucinating. I can name, off the top of my head, dozens of simple examples (from legal marijuana use to Fortune 500 companies routinely extending benefits to same-sex partners) of liberal progress made in my short lifetime. Things that were absolutely unthinkable as recently as the 1980s.

I compare Republicans to the little Dutch boy, sticking their fingers in the dike of progress (boy, that's like a quadruple entendre), and realizing that, for every leak they plug, 3 more spring forth. Typical conservatives are arguing for a value set fewer and fewer Americans share. And the curve isn't just trending our way--its getting more steep. If you look at the urban/rural population balance over the last 40 years, and the government's projections for the next 40 (maybe Ryan can dig it up?) it speaks loud and clear: Podunkvilles, where Republicans reign supreme, are dying. Metropoli (that IS the correct plural), where we archliberals reign supreme, is growing. And the effect is easy to understand. It's a lot easier to hate minorities when you don't see them every day. A lot easier to think they really are 3/5ths of a person (speaking of social progress) when none of them are your friends or coworkers. A lot easier to see gays as satanic immorals when you don't go to their parties (which, frankly, kick ass. No one parties like gay people.).

My friends, take heart. We are winning this war, just as we've been winning it for the last 200 years (or 500 years, if you count progress in Europe---notice how we let Jews own land now?). Republicans like to talk about the End Times, when they will all disappear. They are absolutely right, they're just not right about how it will happen.

Oh, and for you Bush voters out there who want to write back and say "That's not me! I'm no racist! I'm no bigot. I just voted for Bush because he makes me feel safe/John Kerry is too Bostonian/I like the fact that I'm smarter than him/I make over $50 million a year and need his tax cuts/I really like the way he won the Iraq war for us", I have this simple retort: when you jump on a bandwagon, you are responsible for everything done by the guy driving it. Remember, in Lonesome Dove, when they hung poor Robert Ulrich? I know I cried a little. But the moral was correct: when you consort with people who do unconscionable things, you are liable for their crimes, even if you didn't agree with what they were doing. So take your excuses and...well, I was going to say stick them in you tuckus, but I now how sensitive Republicans are about the thought of things being put there.

/rant off.
/Ben out.