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Reply #134: Well thanks, Melissa [View All]

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Febble Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-19-05 03:51 AM
Response to Reply #131
134. Well thanks, Melissa
but I need to correct you on the subject of HARD WORK. Just because you weren't there with the popcorn to watch doesn't mean it wasn't done.

Quite apart from a HUGE amount of work for USCV, OTOH last week delivered the substance of my paper at a meeting of the ASA in Minneapolis, having developed it very much further (in collaboration with myself and Rick Brady) than I had done.

And, contrary to the way my work has been interpreted on DU, what I started to do, and what OTOH, Brady and myself have continued to do, is to attempt to develop a much more sensitive measure of "bias" (ie. discrepancy between poll and count) than the WPE, so that more valid analyses of the factors that contribute to the bias can be done. It's not as easy as it looks. It's not as easy as I thought it was. In fact it's been HARD WORK. But it's important, because blunt an instrument as the exit polls are, anything that can be done to sharpen them is likely to shed light on what went wrong. People scoffed at my work when I described it as "noise reduction". But noise reduction is what is required here.

But here is the problem I have:

If we (generic we) start from the premise that Bush cannot have won the election, ANY argument to the contrary will fail. OTOH (and I) raise the issue of false recall - you laugh it out of court, despite good evidence that it happens. We raise the issue of sampling bias in the poll - it is laughed out of court ("do you believe such a wonderful pollster as Mitofsky could have run such a bad poll?). We raise the issue that the pattern of bias in the poll does not support the hypothesis of highest fraud in Bush strongholds - or widespread vote-switching - and are accused of - I dunno, statistical incompetence, using bad data, you name it.

Fair enough, if you believe Bush lost, you are free to believe it. I wish I still believed it (though I still think Kerry may have won Ohio had the playing field been level). But the fact is, it is possible to wish Bush had lost, to believe that the election was corrupt, to believe that electoral reform is vital for the future of American democracy (and for the world) - and to believe that he probably won. Furthermore, it is possible to believe that the best hope of electoral reform is to look this possibility (probability, in my view) squarely in the face, and to construct an argument for electoral reform that is consistent with the statistical evidence as it is viewed by a great many statistically literate people who also support the case for electoral reform.

Because OTOH, and I, and others, do not believe that TIA's evidence is anything more than suggestive (if that) and certainly not "the clincher" that he claims, does not mean that we do not earnestly want, and work for, electoral reform. It means that we want good, not flawed, statistical arguments to make the case. TIA's interpretation of the data he cites (in itself) is perfectly plausible. So is OTOH's. Statistics will not tell you which is correct. Suggesting they can is a misuse of statistics, and sets up a straw man which, IMO, runs the risk of damaging the case it attempts to support.

And no, I cannot explain how Bush found those votes, if he found them. But then I cannot explain how Britain voted for the disaster that was Thatcherism for all those years. But it did. And the only way Labour could finally regain power was to become, in some senses, almost as Thatcherite as Thatcher. Almost. And not in all senses, thank God.
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