Monday, November 22, 2004

Fact vs. Fantasy in the election

We have two strains of thought: One is that every single indicator of who would win and was winning the presidential election was wrong because of a stealth campaign by Bush that was largely invisible and occurred almost entirely below the radar, to the extent that nothing was indicating a Bush win (except for some cooked polls that have been picked apart to the point of destruction). The other is that the vote itself was cooked.

The first strain is clearly conspiracy theory: that the Republicans somehow, deliberately, managed to hide their campaign and their support completely from experienced watchers who were looking for them, yet somehow their supporters showed up to overwhelm Kerry supporters at the last minute, and nobody saw them.

The facts clearly support the second strain of thought - that the vote was cooked - but the media has chosen to believe that despite any evidence on the ground, a lot of mysterious Bush voters happened to be there when no one was looking. And lied to the exit polls. And did this only in places that were using electronic voting machines owned by a highly-partisan Bush-supporter who had publicly vowed to do whatever he could to bring home the election for Bush.

To believe the "Bush won" conspiracy theory, you have to believe that not only Zogby was wrong, but that both Democrats and Republicans completely altered their behavior and switched their voting patterns, and that Republicans did this in such a way that nobody noticed it even while it was happening.

Democrats vote late in the day. It's always been true, and everyone knows it. When exit polls early in the day say the Democrat is winning by a wide margin, you can take it to the bank that it's not going to get any better for the Republican as people start coming home from work. And that's exactly how it looked on the ground on election day - there was no late surge of Republicans to outnumber the Democrats. And yet, at the last minute, somehow, the polls suddenly started showing Bush coming even and then breaking ahead at a time when there was no sign of these Bush voters suddenly showing up at the polls. How did that happen?

Some folks at Berkeley have done a statistical analysis for us, with all sorts of charts and tables and graphs with color lines and everything, The Effect of Electronic Voting Machines on Change in
Support for Bush in the 2004 Florida Elections
. That's a .pdf (via Bartcop), but here's the finding for those who don't want to be bothered:

Electronic voting raised President Bush's advantage from the tiny edge he held in 2000 to a clearer margin of victory in 2004. The impact of e-voting was not uniform, however. Its impact was proportional to the Democratic support in the county, i.e., it was especially large in Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade. The evidence for this is the statistical significance of terms in our model that gauge the average impact of e-voting across Florida's 67 counties and statistical interaction effects that gauge its larger-than-average effect in counties where Vice President Gore did the best in 2000 and slightly negative effect in the counties where Mr. Bush did the best in 2000. The state-wide impact of these disparities due to electronic voting amount to 130,000 votes if we assume a "ghost vote" mechanism and twice that - 260,000 votes - if we assume that a vote misattributed to one candidate should have been counted for the other.
Well, now, that's mighty suspicious, isn't it? The suggestion of the machines flipping Kerry votes for Bush is about as subtle as a brick, here, folks.

Need more? How about Was it hacked? in The Orlando Weekly:

How do we know the fix was in? Keefer says the total number of respondents at 9 p.m. was well over 13,000 and at 1:36 a.m. it had risen less than 3 percent - to 13,531 total respondents. Given the small increase in respondents, this 5 percent swing to Bush is mathematically impossible. In Florida, at 8:40 p.m., exit polls showed a near dead heat but the final exit poll update at 1:01 a.m. gave Bush a 4 percent lead. This swing was mathematically impossible, because there were only 16 more respondents in the final tally than in the earlier one.
No, really, you think it was a fair election? Just how big a brick do you need to get hit in the head with?

The New York Times needs a brick the size of Ohio, apparently, and even that may not work. You have to work to ferret out the facts in Matt Bai's Who Lost Ohio? because Bai apparently believes it's good enough to say that, well, since Kerry lost, the Republicans must have done a better job than anyone noticed at the time. But here we have people actually going out and looking at the supposedly conservative boondocks counties that made an 11th-hour swing for Bush, right at the moment they are supposedly making the swing, and there's no one there - except a few straggling Kerry voters. It's not just that no one saw the Bush campaign, but there weren't many signs of Bush voters at the polls at the time when this surge of same was supposed to be suddenly swamping what had until then been a commanding Kerry lead.

No, I'm sorry. All of the facts say that people voted for Kerry. Only the machines disagree. The only real question at this point is why Keith Olbermann seems to be the only person in Big Media who thinks that theories about the magical/invisible Bush surge aren't good enough to counteract the facts.

No comments: