Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

The Evidence via @tompowell3

As I noted in yesterday’s Happy Hour, former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton had a presser yesterday. I was only able to listen to a little of it because I was working, but what I heard was interesting, and not entirely untrue.

I can’t vouch for the complete accuracy of Herenton’s numbers. The Voter Participating List that I have doesn’t include race. If you had the time, you could cross reference that list with voter registrations and find. However, based on what I’ve seen, I have no reason to doubt the truth of this graph.

Where Herenton has a point is in highlighting the differences of voting characteristics between the 9th District race and the Shelby County race. Much of the reporting has focused on the surge of white and Republican voters. However, this is not borne out in looking at the 9th district. In fact, the very voters that the media is touting as swaying the election don’t live in the 9th at all, they live in the 7th or the 8th.

The fact is, 53% of the vote in the 9th district race comes from areas that have been traditional Herenton strongholds, and have predominantly African American voter registration. What’s most interesting is that in those areas that have dominated the voting, registrations run about a 3:1 African American to White ratio.

Since the only science in Herenton’s “internal” poll is who is voting, it should come as no surprise, based on this data, that Herenton feels he’ll win by a 3:1 margin.

What is not known is how people are voting. This is, as Donald Rumsfeld would say, a “known unknown”, or we know we can’t know this.

Herenton believes he knows not only who, but how these folks have voted and that’s where the problem lies with his analysis. No one but the voters know.

If we rely on Herenton’s analysis, then Cohen could be in trouble. With all the emphasis on the County race and the generally dismissive tone in the media coverage of Herenton’s lackluster campaign, it’s easy to see that some Cohen voters may feel comfortable not making it out to the polls. This, however, would be a huge mistake.

As I said before, we only know who has voted, and the prior history of how the areas from which they hail have voted in the past. Knowing this should motivate Cohen supporters to the polls on Thursday. Further, looking at the Republican surge in East Shelby that has resulted in turnout that is 10% greater than registrations should also be a motivator to serve as a counterbalance in the County races.

There are lies, damn lies, and statistics. Statistics can be weighted to tell you anything the writer wants you to see. But the God’s honest truth is that in both the 9th District race and the County Races there are more questions than answers for the Democratic slate and Congressman Cohen.

If you want Democratic leadership in Shelby County Government, and want to return Congressman Cohen to DC, I suggest you vote. The “known unknowns” won’t be revealed until its too late.

See Also:
Herenton Presents Own Data, Suggesting Lopsided Victory for Himself
Herenton sees race deciding Dist. 9 race
District Nine – Again

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