Government & Politics | November 15, 2004
Posting in "Comments
From Left Field",
Several E-Mail Exchanges with Political Activists
by My Previous, Widely Circulated
that I've included in brackets  information that I have
subsequently learned -- information that tends to make my case
feedback I am getting to my
statistical analysis of the significant discrepancies between the
exit polls and the reported votes falls into two general
categories. Please allow me to address those concerns and perhaps
clarify things a bit.
Archive of DEMOCRACY: Government & Politics
First, there is the political aspect. If there were actually such
irresolvable differences between the exit polls and the reported
votes, why is the Democratic leadership conceding the election and
not pursuing this matter? Well, Rep. John Conyers Jr.
(D-Michigan), of the House Judiciary Committee, and a growing
number of his colleagues are actively pushing for investigations
into the numerous reports of voting irregularities, in Florida,
Ohio, and elsewhere.
But the DNC, Kerry, and other top Democratic leaders are pressing
for us to "move on" (although moveon.org
seems to be pressing the other way). Politically, no one wants to
be seen as a "sore loser"...particularly when they don't
think they can prove something was (at least intentionally) wrong.
Note that a statistical analysis as I have done indicates only
what has happened, not how it has happened. I just crunch the
numbers that I know to be factual and report my findings. If there
are different numbers to work with, then they should also be
crunched and any discrepancies also accounted for.
Statistically speaking, there are severe problems, in the exit
polls and/or the election results. How such problems arose --
whether they were intentional or otherwise -- and how anyone deals
with them are, of course, separate, non-mathematical issues.
Fundamentally, however, it is irrelevant how any political leaders
or parties deal with voting issues: Each vote belongs to one
citizen, no one else, so this is ultimately a matter for the
PEOPLE to press, or not.
The second general area of feedback I have gotten concerns the
math. I'm sorry it was so long and involved, but that's just the
way it is -- if a case is to be made mathematically, it must be
exhaustive and detailed. Cheating is easy; truth is hard.
But perhaps I can better sum up my findings, in everyday terms --
after all, statistics is not science fiction; it is ultimately the
application of common sense to make sense of otherwise complex and
potentially deceptive problems.
In this case, my central finding is that there is little chance of
having exit poll results for one candidate -- let alone two -- in
one [national] poll -- let alone many [state polls] -- be so far
off just due to "random" factors.
Based on the national exit poll data I personally collected from
CNN on Election Night and yesterday, I am forced to conclude that
there were other, "non-random" factors -- intentional or
otherwise -- affecting the outcome of the exit polls and/or the
That is exactly the same conclusion I would have to come to if
this were a scientific study, say, comparing the average weights
of two breeds of cattle: If the average weight of a large sample
of one breed was significantly larger than the average weight of a
large sample of the other breed, I would have to conclude, with a
high degree of statistical confidence, that the first breed was on
average heavier than the second. That's how virtually all
objective scientific experiments are analyzed.
Subjectively, I disdain "conspiracy theories" in
general; objectively, most prove either unprovable or highly
unlikely...like the proposition that the exit polls and/or
reported voting results in this election were not in significant
error. And I have yet to here anyone explain this, other than to
give unproven or unprovable hypotheses or other, often biased
The thing that causes me the most concern is that the exit polls
were numerous [Actually, one organization was contracted to supply
exit poll results for all the major media] and the CNN national
exit poll was (apparently, undoubtedly) composed of numerous state
exit polls and that the actual election returns were from numerous
polling stations and aggregating centers across the country: For
such significant error to occur in the overall results, there had
to be either numerous errors on down the line, in the exit polls
and/or the voting returns, or -- more reasonably, more
statistically likely -- much fewer but larger errors in central
A democracy having such significant problems in voting is not
unlike a vertebrate having significant problems in its central
nervous system. Left unchecked, they can lead to paralysis,
insanity, or death.
Once again, I will happily crunch other verifiable numbers, which
I have not seen (and I admit to not being "omniscient");
but any other results would have to be reconciled with the
analysis of this other, factual data.
Nevertheless, although we must always courageously seek the truth,
we Democrats cannot let ourselves get bogged down in the past; we
have important political considerations for the future to pursue,
in making our message more acceptable to more Americans.
Conspiracies or no, I doubt we can win close elections; we
shouldn't have to.
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