Fat Steve's Blatherings

Friday, April 15, 2005

Leftwing Stupidity

      I never heard of Robert C. Koehler before, but I came across a column of his, asserting that the Presidential election in Ohio was stolen:
Was the election of 2004 stolen? Thus is the question framed by those who don’t want to know the answer. Anyone who says yes is immediately a conspiracy nut, and the listener’s eyeballs roll. So let’s not ask that question.

Let’s simply ask why the lines were so long and the voting machines so few in Columbus and Cleveland and inner-city and college precincts across the country, especially in the swing states, causing an estimated one-third of the voters in these precincts to drop out of line without casting a ballot;

      Well, Bob, this is just a guess you know, but maybe it has something to do with the fact that elections are run by local officials, and the local officials in Democratic districts are dorks?

      Koehler also links to one Richard Hayes, whose theory appears to be either that a great statewide conspiracy operated in Ohio, but they used different methods in every case, or a bunch of different conspiracies operated, all separately.  In either case, the vote was stolen statewide, but using a different method in every county, indeed, sometimes in individual precincts.  Riiiiiiiiiight.

      Koehler continues:
"And we might, no, we must, ask — with more seriousness than the media have asked — about those exit polls, which in years past were extraordinarily accurate but last November went haywire, predicting Kerry by roughly the margin by which he ultimately lost to Bush. This swing is out of the realm of random chance, forcing chagrined pollsters to hypothesize a “shy Republican” factor as the explanation; and the media have bought this evidence-free absurdity because it spares them the need to think about the F-word: fraud."

      You don't remember the Florida 2000 race, do you Bob, where the exit polls predicted an easy Kerry victory, but turned out to be wrong?  Or that in 2004, the final toll differed from the early morning exit polls all over the country.  Or that the final exit poll data was Bush by 3.44%?

      But since we're speaking of polls, lets look at something else.  During the campaign, RealClearPolitics did averages of the latest polls from a variety of sources.  These were then charted.  The picture below came from Steven den Beste, analyzing the poll trends as of October 16, 2004.  The red and blue lines are the data as provided by RCP, the shaded areas are the trends Den Beste thought he saw.  Den Beste's analysis was that there was a lot of statistical noise in the polling, but the final result was that Bush won by about 2-2.5%.  I will also point out the obvious, because it can be so hard to see: after the middle of August, the average poll results always showed Bush ahead.  ALWAYS.

      So I did my own version when the last polls were in, and they showed this:

      If you look solely at the shaded areas, the expectation is Bush by about 2.5%.  If you remember that these are three way polls (i.e., they included Ralph Nader), and that the third party candidates always do better in opinion polls than on election day, you get a Bush victory by maybe 3%.

      And son of a gun, but that's exactly what happened.

      I'll also point out that, comparing 2000 and 2004, Bush's percentage of the vote went up in just about every state.  But Koehler wants us to believe that, even though Bush carried Ohio in 2000, even though almost all states went the same way in 2004 as they did in 2000, Ohio switched, but the evil Republicans stole the election.

      What was that about the 'reality-based community?'

      One final thing: den Beste thought that the pollsters deliberately undercounted Kerry's support in September, so they could show a big jump in October, creating a band wagon effect.  I'm not sure what I think about that idea, but it sure is interesting that Kerry suddenly surges in the last days, so that the three way average showed him 1.5% behind Bush.

      But the idea that the election was stolen is eye-rolling crazy.
  So it guess it's not surprising that there are still left-wingers pushing it.



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