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?