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the blog

Friday Jan 11, 2008

A New Hampshire Recount

I'm a surgeon and not a pollster. I do know something about statistics and probabilities. I also know that since the year 2000 whatever election does not go the way someone wants voter fraud is scream from the highest rafters. It is clear that we've seen for a fraud in Florida in 2000 and in Ohio in 2004.

Smart people are still studying the results from New Hampshire. I think it is important for me to state a few things about polls that I know are true. First, exit polls are highly accurate. Discrepancies in exit polls have pointed the United States to claim that elections in the Ukraine and elsewhere around the world have been fraudulent. Secondly, polling isn't simply walking up to somebody and asking them a few questions. Polling has become a sophisticated science. Over the last 20 years polling researchers have learned how to ask questions. Therefore, it is highly unusual for a poll to be off by 10 to 15 points. To use a surgery analogy, it is like me diagnosing a patient with a head injury when in fact they have a ruptured appendix!

The mainstream press has put out three scenarios to explain what happened in New Hampshire. The scenarios are somewhat based on the exit polls (which I find somewhat ironic). The first scenario that was thrown out for our consumption was the fact that Hillary Clinton showed real emotion and that connected with voters. This may, in fact, be true but most professional women that I know, despise (maybe despise is too harsh a word but you understand where I'm coming from) women that cry in public. The second scenario was that Hillary Clinton's performance in the debates was so overwhelming that many women change their mind based on the debates. I watched the debate. I thought her performance was good but not great. I thought that all of the candidates who debated had a good performance. Their performance was cautious. No one wanted to make a mistake. Their performance seemed to be the same as the last two or three debates. No surprises, in my book. So I find it interesting that some people would look at that debate and think that Hillary Clinton's performance was so much better than the other candidates. The third scenario is something called the Tom Bradley effect. Tom Bradley, a black man, was the mayor of Los Angeles during the 1970s. He ran for governor of California and all the polling had him winning the race. Unfortunately, he ended up losing that race. Post election analysis showed that many of the white voters knew that it was politically correct to say that they would vote for a black man but when they got in the voting booth, they changed their minds. So, to translate this into the New Hampshire primary, many white women (I say women because it's clear that more women voted for Hillary Clinton then voted for Barack Obama) changed their minds because of Barack Obama's race and voted for Hillary Clinton. This brings up a couple of questions. Why didn't we see any of this in Iowa? The exit polling should have reflected this but it didn't.

No matter what you personally think about Barack Obama, one thing is clear, he has raised money, in huge sums, from every race color or creed in the United States. Once you put your money down, once you go to a rally, once you buy a bumper stick or you've become significantly invested in that campaign. Although racism still exists in this country, I'm not sure that the Tom Bradley effect would account for such a large swing in votes.

I would like to remind everybody that we're talking about a swing of 13 to 15 percentage points. Roughly about 13 to 15,000 people (approximately 210,000 people voted in the Democratic primary). The other scenario, that has popped up in the last day or two is the fact that many of the polls showed a large number of undecided voters.

Just for a second, let me throw this out - preliminary reports indicate that there is a discrepancy between the hand counts and the machine counted areas. Here are two websites (Brad Blog and Check the Votes) that have more information. All I'm saying is I don't know.

Update: Dennis Kucinich as just asked for a recount of the vote. From Kucinich's press release: Democratic Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, the most outspoken advocate in the Presidential field and in Congress for election integrity, paper-ballot elections, and campaign finance reform, has sent a letter to the New Hampshire Secretary of State asking for a recount of Tuesday's election because of "unexplained disparities between hand-counted ballots and machine-counted ballots."

Posted by Errington Thompson on Jan 11, 2008 email post email Spotlight / / You are in Elections
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