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."

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kimi08Nov. 12, 08 7:09 PM

Why should I believe your stats are correct and the WSJ's are not? Can you provide a link to where you got those numbers?

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r1100rsl2Nov. 12, 08 8:19 PM

I have only lived in Minnesota for thirty years. But the most reliable aspect of the so called quality of life here is the Star Tribune's ability to give cover for the DFL. The mysterious production of votes which all favor one candidate would be questioned by any reasonable person. Unfortunately the community is poorly served by its newspaper whose editorial page starts on the front page and extends to the sports section. Yes, we know you gave your endorsement to Sen. Coleman but don't you always have a token Republican endorsement to hide behind?

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allarson73Nov. 12, 08 8:46 PM

I find more and more that many only believe news with which they agree. Asserting that news they disagree with is biased. This begins a self delusional cycle in which the original belief feeds on the assertion and soon you have someone who can point to article after article that is biased. This internally built bias is fed by others and away we go. A self centered view of the world that allows one to censor anything that doesn't fit their paradigm.

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fursideNov. 12, 08 9:24 PM

How we conduct ourselves is really about our self-confidence and personal integrity. That we will not give in to either promoting fake or suspicious empirical evidence that supports our view, or that we do not belittle truthful evidence and facts which run contrary to a conclusion we had ideologically desired is what integrity is really about. . A good example of this denial was the belief as reported on CNN, which stated: 24% of republican voters in Texas believed that Sadam was behind 911. This is one week before the recent 2008 elections. This finding has to be viewed as a result of small individual egos not wanting anything to taint their fore drawn conclusion of convenience. There has to be a great deal of effective propaganda at work to turn so many otherwise good folks into being so willfully dishonest and so stubbornly ignorant of how they rightfully appear to the rest of the civilized world by their loyalty to deceit.

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joeeeeeeNov. 13, 08 6:11 AM

Al Franken could give Coleman every vote that has been reported in the corrections made by the election oficials just to shut these 'holes up. The required recount examines every vote cast and will correct any and every miscalculation however made and result in the true will of the people. All the political pandering will be of no use.

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dglewweNov. 13, 08 7:15 AM

regarding the posts by allarson and furside: iirc, a person thinking the "right" thoughts actually releases a chemical in the brain that makes them feel good --in a sense making them an addict to a point of view. tough row to hoe in getting them to abandon their "high" in favor of critical thinking/objective analysis when getting the Scooby-snack for following the leader is so rewarding.

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kimi08Nov. 13, 08 9:19 AM

I'm just asking for where I can find the numbers for myself. I'm not saying the STrib's are wrong, but if they would say where they got their information I'd like to check for myself. I don't want to take the WSJ OR the STrib's word for it. Hell, neither of them can even say where they got their information...maybe I should just throw some random numbers out there too and maybe you would believe it? Especially since these numbers are in the "Opinion" section...

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howatgaNov. 13, 0811:30 AM

I conducted my analysis using the Minnesota Secretary of State's U.S. Senate precinct results files. The most recent file can be found here: http://electionresults.sos.state.mn.us/20081104/media.asp These are delimited text files and you need software, such as Microsoft Access, to analyze the numbers. I compared the most recent file to a file I downloaded the morning of Wednesday, Nov 5. The older file has results for 100 percent of the precincts and shows Coleman leading with a margin of 725 votes. The most recent file shows Coleman leading with a margin of 206 votes. You will also need the Presidential by Precinct file to analyze the results in that race. Again, I compared the current presidential race precinct file to one I downloaded on Wednesday Nov. 5. If you have any questions about the analysis, please send me an email at howatt@startribune.com. Glenn Howatt Computer-Assisted Reporting Editor Star Tribune

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allarson73Nov. 13, 08 2:24 PM

There you go. I look forward to your post confirming the accuracy of the numbers in the above editorial. I would also note, I am glad you are scrutinizing things but your first post did not appear to indicate you were just trying to establish where both sources got their numbers. You asked why you should believe one over the other. Did you try to email the Wall Street Journal requesting information on their numbers?

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kimi08Nov. 13, 08 2:52 PM

Thanks. I was on the SOS site but didn't see these data sets, just the summary. allarson73, chill man and save the condescending attitude like you're the only one who questions what they are told NO I didn't post back to the WSJ, I figured it would be easier ask here...the people at the STrib are more accessible in that regard. I'm not trying to be a jerk, but I've done enough number crunching to know you can usually draw what ever conclusions you want out of them. That is usually my motive, to get the facts with out any coloration. In my original post, I just wanted to hear where those numbers were originally found, and howatga graciously provided that. I'd be more than glad to post what I find back here in more detail. I've thrown about those WSJ numbers a few times, so I'd like to know if I repeated those numbers in error. I'm more than willing own up to it if I did.

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