WSJ numbers don't add up

  • Article by: ERIC RINGHAM
  • Updated: November 12, 2008 - 5:11 PM

Earlier today we posted an editorial from this morning's Wall Street Journal, which suggested that Minnesota Democrats might be "stealing a Senate seat for left-wing joker Al Franken." The WSJ editorial, headlined "Mischief in Minnesota?", includes a paragraph that relies on a "conservative statistician," John Lott, to lend an air of mathematical authority to the charge. It drew the attention of the newsroom's editor for computer-assisted reporting, Glenn Howatt, who sent this note over the news/editorial firewall: "I see that you posted the John Lott thing. His numbers are simply wrong."

Here's the rest of Howatt's analysis:

Here’s what the column says:

"According to conservative statistician John Lott, Mr. Franken’s gains so far are 2.5 times the corrections made for Barack Obama in the state, and nearly three times the gains for Democrats across Minnesota Congressional races. Mr. Lott notes that Mr. Franken’s ‘new’ votes equal more than all the changes for all the precincts in the entire state for the Presidential, Congressional and statehouse races combined (482 votes)."

Based on my analysis, this is wrong. I compared the precinct results for the presidential and the senate races.

There are more corrections in the Obama race and the net result is bigger:

58 precincts changed their Obama totals for a net gain of 1,121 votes (46 precincts added another 1,268 votes for Obama, 12 precincts took away 147 votes)

48 precincts changed their Franken totals for a net gain of 459 votes (37 precincts added 569 votes for Franken; 11 precincts took away 110 votes)

I don’t know what statistical calculation Lott was using, but Obama clearly got more from the corrections.

MCain also benefitted from the corrections.

41 precincts changed their McCain totals for a net gain of 454 votes (31 precincts added 803 votes; 10 precincts took away 349 votes)

For Coleman:

39 precincts changed Coleman total for a net loss of 60 votes (29 precincts added 83 votes; 10 precincts took away 143 votes).

In the Senate race: 99 of 4132 precincts changed votes.

In the presidential race: 121 of 4132 precincts changed votes.

 

 

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