Who Really Won?

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Washington Post's Sloppy Analysis

In response to critics in the 'mainstream media, Consortium News analyses the idea that all the Democratic voters who allegedly voted for Bush in Florida were simply easily explained 'Dixiecrats':

We began our analysis of the vote totals with one simple question: Where did Bush earn his new votes? Since one of every nine new Bush voters nationwide came from Florida, we thought this battleground state was a good place to examine county-by-county tallies.

We also didn’t go into the analysis expecting to find statistical oddities. We were open to the possibility that Bush’s totals might have fit within statistical norms.

What we found, however, led us to report that Bush’s vote tallies were statistically improbable – though not impossible. Contrary to the Post’s claim, we did take into account the Dixiecrat element, which is why we didn’t focus on the Bush totals from Florida’s panhandle or the smaller, rural counties.

Our analysis found that of the 13 Florida counties where Bush’s vote total exceeded the number of registered Republicans for the first time, only two were counties with fewer than 100,000 registered voters. In 2000, Bush’s vote total exceeded the number of registered Republicans in 34 counties – not 32 as the Post inaccurately reported – but in 2004, this total shot up to 47 counties.

Rather than a rural surge of support, Bush actually earned more than seven out of 10 new votes in the 20 largest counties in Florida. Many of these counties are either Democratic strongholds – such as Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach – or they are swing counties, such as Orange, Hillsborough, and Duval.

Many of these large counties saw substantially more newly registered Democrats than Republicans. For example, in Orange County, a swing county home to Orlando, Democrats registered twice as many new voters than Republicans in the years since 2000. In Palm Beach and Broward combined, Democrats registered 111,000 new voters compared with fewer than 20,000 new Republicans.

However, in these three counties combined, Bush turned out about 10,000 more new voters than Kerry, a feat made all the more remarkable given that Kerry improved Democratic turnout in these counties by 21 percent.