That Magic 11% Number
Like most informed observers, I was pleased when the NY Times replaced William Kristol as their back-up conservative pundit with Ross Douthat, largely because I figured Douthat, unlike Kristol, would not make the numerous errors that I & others pointed out Kristol did.
So I was a bit disappointed with Douthat’s latest column, which says of President Obama
“On health care, energy, taxes and spending, he’s pushing a blue-state agenda during a recession that’s exposed some of the blue-state model’s weaknesses, and some of the red-state model’s strengths.”
Douthat uses a cheap, statistical trick to help make his case:
“California, long a paradise for regulators and public-sector unions, has become a fiscal disaster area. And it isn’t the only dark blue basket case. Eight states had unemployment over 11 percent in June; seven went for Barack Obama last November.”
My first thought was that 11% is a strange figure to use. Could there be any reason why he chose that number rather than 10%?
And I quickly found out the reason.
Here’s the listing of the 15 states were unemployment topped 10% in June. Michigan is the state not mentioned because it’s referred to in the previous paragraph.
“The other states where unemployment topped 10 percent last month were: Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Tennessee.”
What Douthat did was a prime example of data mining - he picked a number so that he could ignore the dark red states with unemployment rates higher than dark blue states like New York. And that’s leaving aside that another 5 of the 15 states are far from dark blue – Florida, Indiana, Nevada, North Carolina and Ohio all voted for George W. Bush twice (well probably not Florida) and that 9 of them have Republican governors.
Post new comment