Bad political writing: an example

I saw the following article on a FB friend’s wall. The article contained the following passage:

“In short, the Clinton campaign is in the midst of an historic collapse — much of it due to the unraveling of support for Clinton among nonwhite voters — and the national media has yet to take any notice.
Clinton’s 48-point lead in New York less than two weeks ago is now just a 12-point lead, according to the latest Quinnipiac Poll. That poll shows Sanders with approximately 300 percent more support among African-American voters in New York than he had in Mississippi earlier this month.

Wow…that looks pretty bad for Clinton right? Well, let’s look at a series of New York Democratic Primary polls:(chronological order, 2016 polls only, which the bottom being the most recent:

Clinton + 21
Clinton + 21
Clinton +48
Clinton + 12
Clinton + 10

Do you see what is going on? Clearly, the “Clinton by 48 points” is an outlier poll. But because using that poll as a baseline fit the narrative of the article writer, that is the baseline he used!
Climate change deniers do something very similar when they take an unusually hot year (say, 1998) as a baseline and then start arguing that subsequent years are cooler, when in fact those subsequent years are still warmer than the years preceding the unusually hot year.

But back to the political article: yes, there HAS been movement toward Sanders, but hardly the outrageous amount that is claimed by the article.

While we are on the subject of “being misleading”, take a look at an official Trump campaign meme:


Yes, it doesn’t say anything false and it does cherry pick the most favorable poll…which still shows Trump trailing (albeit within the margin of error).


April 3, 2016 - Posted by | politics, politics/social, statistics | , , , ,

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