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Reply #17: fact check [View All]

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OnTheOtherHand Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-07-07 09:01 AM
Response to Reply #16
17. fact check
Edited on Wed Feb-07-07 09:02 AM by OnTheOtherHand
There is considerable misinformation in this post. I will touch on a few points.

Critics of TIA's arguments have offered extensive statistical evidence to explain why the exit polls are not convincing evidence of fraud. TIA mostly ignores it, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. Maybe TIA actually thinks that things he disagrees with do not exist?

TIA's repeated assertions that his critics "never consider that the discrepancies could be due to fraud" undermine his credibility. I do not know why TIA is committed to repeating this canard. I am happy to have people read my work and raise questions about it; I am not at all happy to have people invent or distort my positions. Of course I and others have considered that the discrepancies could be due to fraud. Could we please keep it real around here?

Similarly, TIA alleges that critics "dismiss" the pre-election polls. In fact, I and others have discussed these polls extensively; TIA just doesn't like what we have to say.

(Nor do I "dismiss" Bush's 48.5% approval rating. Actually, I demonstrate that extrapolating from previous elections, the break-even point is around 45%: on average, an incumbent with an approval rating over 45% would be expected to win. That isn't to say that a victory was foreordained -- I don't recommend predicting election results from approval ratings alone.)

TIA asks, "Why would Gore (or Bush) voters lie in a confidential survey? Why would Gore voters forget who they voted for just four years later?" Here, TIA fails to engage the evidence to which he is supposedly responding. As I have explained repeatedly, we know that in the 2000-2004 NES panel, some respondents who said in 2000 that they had voted for Gore, said in 2004 that they had voted for Bush in 2000. I have no way of knowing whether they were lying, or forgetting, or what. But whatever exists, is possible. No number of rhetorical questions can wish those respondents away.

TIA asserts as a "fact" that "the 2004 pre-election polls matched exit polls." This claim is, charitably, tortured, for reasons that I have explained in detail. Even on average, the pre-election polls showed Bush ahead, nationally and in the state of Ohio. Even if one believes that these polls should be interpreted to give Kerry an advantage, it misrepresents the work of the researchers to claim that their polls "matched" the exit poll results. Repeated and deliberate misrepresentations of other researchers' work violate scientific ethics.

TIA's comments on New York err in several respects. The New York exit poll gave Kerry a 31.3-point lead, not a 28-point lead. There were four pre-election polls in the last week, each showing Kerry ahead by 15 to 18 points; the Siena and SurveyUSA polls alone had a combined N of almost 1700, not 600. These results do not "match." Worse, while TIA strains to make these results "match," he sets aside all the other state results that likewise infirm his assumptions. TIA did not predict, and has not accounted for, the lack of correlation between exit poll "red shift" and deviations from pre-election polls at the state level. This is one of the many lines of statistical evidence that, for whatever reason, he apparently prefers to claim don't exist.

All these points and more are made in my FAQ, in considerable detail. It is not feasible to rebut repeated misstatements each time they are made. I recognize that some people regard it as uncharitable, unhelpful, and/or unpatriotic to subject TIA's arguments to scientific scrutiny. If such people read carefully the criticisms of TIA in the GD thread that begins here, they will find much food for thought, or for rage, as they prefer. I associate myself with the remarks of RoyGBiv regarding TIA's 2004 analysis in post #216, here:

My friend then forwarded the presentation to a colleague whose life is statistical analysis. His conclusion? I'm paraphrasing here, but it boiled down to something similar to what Skinner said regarding this presentation, "The underlying assumptions are false. This is a case of a conclusion being sought and the methods and assumptions fixed to surround what is sought. This is the kind of thing that makes people distrust statistical analysis." And all this took place well before the election.

Since then I have paid little attention to any of this, except to offer my own little bit here, which I'm sure will draw the ire of many. The point for me is simply this. The worthy goal of exposing election fraud is not aided by bad statistical analysis and in fact works exactly in the opposite direction.

I likewise agree with Skinner's judgment of TIA's analysis of 2006, offered in post #126 in that thread: "This analysis is an embarrassment." Again, I have presented my reasons in detail; again, I have been told that I just don't consider the possibility of fraud; again, TIA has disregarded or cherry-picked the data and prior research. Arguing with TIA is like battling the Black Knight, except that TIA never even offers a draw.

(EDIT: formatting)
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