Inspection- Stats to KILT for: WHAT “33%?”
This is a crucial question: no matter who you support in ANY election.
I freely admit: I had statistics in public school and, if I remember right, twice in college. It wasn’t my major. I found it boring. I only took it because it was required with Liberal Arts and then because I switched to Communications/Mass Media from English and, yes, that was important enough for my new degree I had to at least sit in on the class. And again: this is what I seem to remember.
Nope: “I ain’t anybody’s statistician.”
However, as with all disciplines, there are some basics that drive me crazy because the media, and talking heads, either ignore them or skip over them out of political convenience. This Trump’s base at 30 some odd % news blather drives me crazy. “His base never changes!” Now wait a guldern gadfly pickin minute. There are all kind of stats saying people are leaving the Republican Party for or because of Trump. Simply put both can’t be true and the stat remain so stagnant. You have to address why their leaving and how it alters that stat. Otherwise what does it mean? 33% OF WHAT?
Honest minds need to know. Yes, some could be leaving to join… the… Trump… Party? Some could be leaving for other reasons: the great escape. Basically we’d have a shrinking 33% percent of… the electorate? Of Republicans? Of… WHAT? Do they interview the same people, different people? All this makes a difference. Maybe some are so disgusted they’ve decided to become nuns or priests after the sex change operation.
There’s an easy way to solve this: at the same time list how his base is shrinking, or getting bigger… though it could only be getting bigger if the way they take the stats is interviewing/polling the group as a whole without regard to shifting size of that base: which makes the 33% (whatever) absolutely worthless.
It reminds me of a Tennessee Highway purchasing agent, years ago, who was holding the heavy, inevitable, hammer of eminent domain over our heads. She answered my “how high” question with “300 (some odd) feet.” When I basically asked “from where,” she said, “From a stake driven in the property, it could be anywhere. To which I responded, “Then your measurement is meaningless.” She didn’t like that. (I actually asked if the measurement was from sea level and she claimed not to know what sea level was. After that I tried my best not to show what I was thinking: “How can you NOT know what sea level is?”)
This 33% (whatever) means nothing otherwise. Those who support Trump NEED to know how much their actual size of their base is shrinking to consider what’s not working OR if it’s actually getting bigger. Those who don’t obviously need to know the same supporters need to know: how weel what they’re doing is working. Hell, the bloody White House needs to know.
We need to start demanding more from those who cite, and take, such stats: more specifics. Just tossing out some odd percent is worse than useless. Maybe the information is out there but reporters aren’t reporting it. This all could come under the “faulty methodology” category. WE DON’T KNOW> All we have is figures tossed in our faces.
If not I think it best we shrug off such stats. Just realize when people quote them they could be blowing sunshine up our kilts.
Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 40 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks, and into the unseen cracks and crevasses, that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
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