One of the great problems of having political analysts on the payroll is that they often have to say something even when there's nothing to say. That's when they make it up and hope you won't notice.
Political analysts can be fairly bad at math, especially when they're trying to jam their reality into an equation that doesn't add up. Last night's New Hampshire results provide the examples.
William Kristol got the ball rolling last night by declaring Romney's vote total to be "worrisome," noting that turnout was down.
The problem here appears to be math. Kristol said Romney's vote total was about the same as, or a little less than, what he got four years ago. And that's true, if by "the same as or a little less than" you actually mean 26 percent more. Romney garnered 97,532 votes last night, compared to 75,546 four years ago. It was also 10 percent more than the amount that John McCain received in New Hampshire four years ago.
Kristol was working for FoxNews, but today, NPR didn't fare much better in solving the math problem.
In their weekly Political Junkie chat, political editor Ken Rudin and NPR Talk of the Nation host Neal Conan wanted to make a similar point to Kristol's (the Republicans are in trouble) and if he had to slaughter the rules of statistics, that's just what he had to do.
"If you take out all the new voters that Ron Paul brought to the caucuses in Iowa, and take out the new voters that Ron Paul brought to the primary in New Hampshire, turnout was actually lower than 2008 in both places," Conan said, before Rudin agreed with him without question. Wrong.
Let's think about Conan's qualifier for a second. Why would you remove a piece of reality under the assumption that it would reveal an underlying reality? And why would you remove "new" voters from the comparison and not remove all the "new" voters from the 2008 primary to -- inelegantly and inaccurately -- achieve a more fair comparison?
"If you take out the killings, Washington actually has a very very low crime rate," then Mayor Marion Barry once said of his famously crime-ridden city.
Similarly, one could say, if you took out 19 losses from last year's Minnesota Twins season, they actually turned in a winning season. The problem, of course, is you can't remove a piece of reality in order to create a clearer reality. The Twins were pretty bad and as noted political analyst Bill Parcells once said, "you are what your record says you are."
The last time there was a Republican primary in New Hampshire without a Democratic contest of any note was 1996. In that election, 282,697 Republican votes were cast. Last night 248,485 votes were cast for the major candidates, that's about 7,000 more than in 2008.
Is that significant? Sure, because as Linda Fowler, professor of government at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, said on Midday yesterday, New Hampshire has been turning more purple than its traditional red. So an increase in turnout is pretty impressive.
William Kristol is an incompetent, mendacious, Israel-first neocon. Known as "The brains behind Dan Quayle".
Nothing he says should be taken seriously.
What if Neal Conan uses him for background?
\\When political analysts make it up
Isn't that most of the time?
I REALLY dislike political analysis. The political junkie segment is the only programming on MPR that makes me want to listen to 30 year old elevator music. I’d rather listen to fundraising ... or even sponsorship announcements (which MPR insists isn’t advertising).
Really fascinating piece would be "When political analysts DON'T make it up." It would be a short piece, obviously.
But ...but ...Kristol was giving his opinion based on projections/exit polling results at a time when less than half of the polls had reported and I think you're using final numbers. He was wrong about turnout being down too.
I can't imagine Conan believes everyone who voted for Paul is a new voter. That's just silly and is the kind of thing that fuels the media conspiracy against Ron Paul thinking.
// which MPR insists isn’t advertising
Off topic, but that's actually defined by FCC rules.
Huh? I don't disagree with the premise of this article, but the data presented by the author are very confusing:
2012- 248,485 for the major candidates.
Is this a trick question? Is there a pop quiz? Unless this author is ALSO comparing apples and onions, the turnout appears to be 34,212 fewer people voting, not 7000 MORE than 1996. If we're going to have these discussions, it is essential we compare exact categories, not different ones.
"What if Neal Conan uses him (Kristol) for background?"
Consequently, (and sadly), the credibility afforded Conan would be adjusted accordingly.
I think this entire piece is ridiculous and insulting. There is an implication that most of the time talking heads on teevee are *not* making things up, which is of course absurd. They rarely have the slightest idea what they are talking about - but do appear to be very clear about who is paying them, which is probably all that matters.
For example - how many campaigns has BIll Kristol actually run? Or most of them, for that matter? How can they comment on the conduct of an effort they've never put forward themselves? At least when you watch an NFL game the commentators are (usually) guys who were once there - not so with most talking heads.
Whoops - didn't sound as silly as I meant to there. Didn't mean to be harsh, glad you're taking these guys on. :-)
@churchlady320, you missed the bit where he compared last night's turnout to 2008, not to 1996.
// not 7000 MORE than 1996.
7000 more than four years ago.
According to the University of New Hampshire:
"After the 1998 election, there were 272,000 registered Republicans in New Hampshire and 203,000 registered Democrats, a difference of 70,000. Ten years later, the difference had narrowed to 6,000 more registered Republicans (271,000) than Democrats (265,000). Thus, Democratic registrations grew by 30 percent, between 1998 and 2008, while Republican registrations remained stable. Statewide voter registration grew by 14 percent overall."
So last night, there were only 23,000 fewer votes in the GOP field than the total number of Republicans REGISTERED ten years earlier. Assume a 54% turnout and it's hardly cause for the Republicans to be beside themselves.
All discussion of vote counts is superfluous when it comes to this process. The real count as we will be reminded in due course is delegates. And after two "stunning victories" Mitt Romney holds a "decisive" 4 delegate lead over Ron Paul. In addition former Gov. Romney has amassed a "formidable" 1.14% of the total number of delegates needed. All the good data on this is at The Green Papers
Erik, you raise a point worthy of discussion: as a group, who is more accurate -- political analysts or sports analysts?
In both categories, you can make an obscene amount of money with little knowledge of the subject.
//who is more accurate -- political analysts or sports analysts?
I'll say political analysts, but only because the other side has Phil Simms.
//who is more accurate -- political analysts or sports analysts?
"I'll say political analysts, but only because the other side has Phil Simms."
And Sid Hartmann.
My own preference is TPT WX over listening to a cackle of below-average political analysts.
But I do find that the political analysts frequently have an edge in the grammar department.
>>Off topic, but that's actually defined by FCC rules.
“That depends upon what the definition of is, is.”
I don’t mind true sponsorship announcements. However I’ve turned on the radio and for several seconds thought I was tuned to a commercial station. Just because it can be done doesn’t mean it should be done.
Yes, several seconds of underwriting sounds the same on commercial radio as on public radio. That's true.
Glad to have you as a supporting member.
" // not 7000 MORE than 1996.
7000 more than four years ago."
If you take out the 21st century, 4 years ago is 1996.
Did you see Daily Show last night? Stewart stole my stuff again. I wish he'd stop doing that. :*)