succumbing to peer pressure

Monday, February 11, 2008

I'm using my best willpower to avoid saying something snarky about the Republican party and their propensity to not want to count votes...oh wait, I just ruined it, didn't I? Darn! Anyway, Mark, over at Good Math Bad Math has a nice wrap-up of why things seem fishy in Washington, and not just because of Pike's Place Market.

The state party has been making the argument that McCain won - that with that number of votes counted, statisticaly, there was no way that Huckabee could make up the difference, and so they could fairly declare the winner. Their "methodology" for this conclusion was: "Let's take every county where Huckabee is beating McCain, and double the margin of victory. Then let's take every county where McCain is winning, and half that margin of victory. Even if you assume that, Sen. McCain still holds on."

As statistical methodology goes, that's absolute garbage. But worse, it's clearly a lie - because despite claiming to have done that analysis, the officials in the state party admit that they have no idea what parts of the state weren't fully counted. No clue, not about counties, voting precincts, nothing. But they want you to believe that they did this "careful" analysis on a county-by-county basis.
Let's take a quick look at the arithmetic of it. Assume that the reported percentages accurately represent the percentage of voters in the unreported discricts - so that the counted votes - the 13,475 votes counted - represent 87% of the republican voters. Then the expected total republican electorate would be about 15,500 voters - leaving about 2,000 votes left uncounted. For those votes to swing the election to Huckabee, he would have needed to win roughly 1,135 votes - that is, to win the uncounted districts by about 6%.

Is it likely that Huckabee won the remaining districts by 6%? Not particularly. Is it
possible that he won them by 6%? Absolutely.
So - I absolutely wouldn't rule out the possibility of fraud. There's no mathematical reason Huckabee couldn't have won, and there's no reasonable explanation for the insane behaviour of the party officials in charge of the vote. Something fishy sure seems to be going on.


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