Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Biggest Idiot on THP (with Meanwhiles!)

Jim Lampley posted this FASCINATING post on The Huffington Post today. Really, full of facts and stuff. Um. Yeah. (Via atrios)

Oddsmakers consulted exit polling and knew what it meant and acknowledged in their oddsmaking at that moment that John Kerry was winning the election.

And he most certainly was, at least if the votes had been fairly and legally counted. What happened instead was the biggest crime in the history of the nation, and the collective media silence which has followed is the greatest fourth-estate failure ever on our soil.

I admit, it is rather odd that the exit polls would be so wrong. But there are many possible explanations for such a discrepancy.

As Mr. Lampley points out

It is damned near impossible to go to graduate school in any but the most artistic disciplines without having to learn about the basics of social research [and its uncanny accuracy and validity. !?!?!?!]

Apparently Jim went to a completely different school of social research than the one I went to. But maybe it is just because I only have an undergraduate degree that I understand how delicate polling can be. Only someone with a basic university education could possibly understand that a poll is only as good as it sample and that exit polls are imprecise at best because they cannot be completely random.

It is clearly unreasonable to think that that exit pollers were swamped by democrats eager to give their opinions and passed by by Dubya's supporters. And how could I even question the validity of the always precise pollsters by pointing out that maybe their representatives were located in areas that tended to lean left. Obviously someone who spends their life talking while sweaty guys punch each other is the man we should be listening to when it comes to exit polling. No? Hmm.

We know that professionally conceived samples simply do not yield results which vary six, eight, ten points from eventual data returns, that's why there are identifiable margins for error.

Actually, what we know is that 95% of the time the data will fall within those margins of error. So, 5 % of the time the data falls outside of the range, in other words, 5% of the time the polls will be WRONG.

I know, I with a mere B.S. could not possibly comprehend how implausible it is that the exit polls are wrong. If you don't believe me, look at this post by the much more informed Mark Blumenthal at Mystery Pollster. (Which by the way was posted a long time ago, like... Near when the election actually happened as opposed to half a year later.)

I'm sorry Jim, I'm upset that Bush won too, but sadly exit polls are not evidence of vote tampering. It is possible that the votes were tampered with. And really, I wish I believed that they were. But I think that the probability of the polls being wrong is .05 and the probability of national vote tampering is probably closer to .0000000001

I would also like to add that conspiracy theories that eschew logic, reason and science are probably not the best way to help the already beleaguered left.

UPDATE: John Cole has a post on this and he pointed me to John Conyers who backs up Lampley's ridiculous accusations with a little movie somebody made. Oh god, I'm so ashamed that I voted democrat right now.

MEANWHILE: The Mystery Pollster has posted a response to the Lampley debacle. He has a lot of good links and more information on the entire exit poll debate. Definetly worth a read.

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