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Reply #27: great question [View All]

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OnTheOtherHand Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-14-08 06:32 PM
Response to Reply #26
27. great question
I drafted a very long reaction to the book, but I don't know when I will find time to render it readable (the book is very complicated, so the draft turned out the same way).

I really admire Phillips' work ethic, and it's very likely that he looked at more evidence than anyone else. His central arguments -- with respect to estimating vote miscount -- aren't very solid. My DKos diary here talks at some length about the "Connally anomaly" issue. Basically, I and the quants I know don't think there is a Connally anomaly. That's huge because it accounts for more than half of his vote-change estimate.

Somewhat similarly, Phillips relies heavily on disbelief that many people might have voted for Bush and against Issue One, but other evidence (including his own evidence from Harrison County) shows that it happened. Not only does this undermine Phillips' credibility, but it makes the book very hard to read.

Some of the details are sketchy, too. For instance, at one point he asserts that two signatures on different absentee ballots match, but they really don't -- the letters are differently formed. Or, he takes an election official's asinine comment that "all of the Delaware shop owners are gay" and treats it so seriously that he makes it one subject of a public records request. Or, more consequentially, he has some weird turnout figure for Cleveland. Of course it stands to reason that in a 400-page book, some of the details will be sketchy.

I think his discussion of miscounted ballots in Cuyahoga County is pretty solid, although L Coyote might well disagree, and he's at least in the ballpark with respect to machine distribution in Franklin County.

Phillips finds lots of mismatches between pollbook counts and ballot counts; he interprets these as evidence of fraud, but it is hard to tell what they are. (Republicans cite similar results as evidence that Kerry stole Wisconsin -- which is possible, for all I know, but I don't find either one very convincing.) If the mismatches coincided with other anomalies, that would be noteworthy, but it isn't obvious to me that they do so coincide. Similarly, he finds some suspicious runs in precincts that weren't even recounted, but the results aren't obviously anomalous, so it's hard to know what to conclude. It's definitely a bad situation when the counts don't match.

I wish that Phillips had collaborated with someone else with a more skeptical bent, to winnow some of the less convincing stuff and help him figure out how to sharpen his arguments.
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