Reducing the Margin For Error

Will we ever know who "won" the Washington Governor's race? While from a practical perspective someone will eventually become governor, on a scientific level the question may remain forever unknown:What's happening in Washington could have occurred almost anywhere in the country, said Doug Chapin, director of, a clearinghouse on election-reform news and information. "There are 49 other states who are mopping their brows and saying, 'Phew, it could have been us.' "

Why? Elections work fine when candidates win by a large margin. When victory comes down to roughly the capacity of a Metro bus, small errors -- stray marks on ballots, punch cards that weren't punched properly and human mistakes -- can cloud the final vote tally.

Like survey polls that try to show what people are thinking, elections have what statisticians call a margin of error.

"There is a margin of error in connection with any measurement system, whether we're counting fish in a lake or counting votes for a governor," said Kirk Wolter, a statistics professor at the University of Chicago who did research on what happened in Florida during the 2000 presidential election.

More after the jump.

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Steve Rosenthal on Election Myths and Realities

Steve Rosenthal, CEO of ACT in 2004 and former political director of the AFL-CIO, has recently penned an article about Kerry's defeat in Ohio. Most of the article is spent dispelling some important myths that have taken hold post-election. Each is described after the jump.

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Religious Left Beginning To Organize

Right now, it is not much, but it is a start: ''The religious right has been effectively organizing for 35 years, and as I always say, it took Moses 40 years to lead his people out of the wilderness, and it's going to take us a few years more to catch up," said the Rev. Bob Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches USA and a former Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania.

Edgar is part of a group that holds a conference call each Thursday to discuss the liberal response to national and world affairs, a telephonic gathering convened last year in the run-up to the US invasion of Iraq.

''While we didn't stop the war, we began to talk and work cooperatively together," he said.

Among as many as 40 people on the line any Thursday are Jim Wallis, who convened Call to Renewal, a faith-based response to world poverty; the Rev. C. Welton Gaddy of the Interfaith Alliance; the Rev. James A. Forbes Jr., pastor of the Riverside Church in New York; and Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children's Defense Fund.

The issues are there for a religious left to rise, but the organization will take some time. Still, this is encouraging, since the left made some organizations advances in 2004, and a rising religious left could be an important ally in the future. We surpassed the right in terms of netroots. We reached parity, and possibly surpassed, the right in terms of small donor fundraising. We reached parity, and possibly surpassed, the right in terms of swing state organizing. In all three areas, we faced large deficits following the 2002 elections, and we should celebrate our gains in all three areas. However, despite a rising Air America, we still face problems on the radio. We also face problems on college campuses, problems in terms of declining union membership, problems in terms of think tanks and media access, and, as Lakoff has famously argued, problems in terms of message organization and promotion. If we make up ground in religious organizing, well, that will be one less deficit that we face in the future.


That noise is a light bulb appearing over my head. Three articles I have encountered over the past few days have formed a crude synthesis in my mind, centered on exactly how Demcorats develop and implement the much needed and much desired fifty-state strategy in 2006. Let me see if this makes any sense once I write it out.

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Cancel Your Subscription to the Washington Post

Seriously:The Washington Post yesterday printed a magazine ad supplement, bought by religious right groups, that is one of the most bigoted homophobic things I have ever read. I am astonished the Post would print this filth.

In it you learn things like the fact that sexual orientation isn't genetic. Why? Because if it were genetic it would have to be passed by gay parents who don't have kids! Putting aside a number of holes in that theory, there's the more general scientific point about recessive genes. My point is that this filth isn't even scientifically correct, and the Post is publishing it. I didn't realize the Post had no problems publishing junk science targeting minority groups. Huh.

What's more, the entire publication is based on race-baiting. It is CLEARLY written for the black community in an effort to piss them off against the gays. Funny, but you'd think the Post would have a problem with a scientifically invalid publication whose sole intent was to enrage one minority community against another. But no.

Oh, and it gets better. The publication informs you that gays die at the age of 41. Yep, all of us. What they don't tell you is that this little "study" was conducted by Dr. Paul Cameron, an anti-gay nutjob who has even been disowned by the religious right (let alone he was thrown out of various medical associations). But does the Post have a problem publishing junk science that suggests that certain minority groups are inferior to others? Not at all!

Oh, it goes on and on. Then concludes by invoking Martin Luther King's memory to attack us. Which is again an outright lie since Coretta Scott King has already said that the gay rights movement is part of the larger civil rights movement her husband embraced.

Where the hell is the Washington Post on all of this? Pay them the right price and they'll publish any crap, no matter how outrageous, no matter how wrong, no matter how hateful and obviously race-baiting (note that the fags in the publication are all white).

This is utterly unacceptable. Bye-bye post.


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