Poll-ish jokesDavid Feela - 01/26/2017
After the 2016 presidential election results skidded across the internet at my house, I had to wonder what went wrong with those enormous data-driven insights into how the race would play out. The Huffington Post, for example, predicted a 98.something percent chance of Hillary Clinton winning the White House in all the models they had run. Donald Trump’s chances fluctuated between 1.4 percent and 1.7 percent. The experts were not only wrong, they could be accused of reporting fiction. Not paying attention to media polls has become my top New Year resolution.
After all, 42.7 percent of all statistics are made up on the spot, so how can I do worse?
Here are six statistical quagmires:
1) 63 percent of voters going to the polls thought SCOTUS referred to a brand of toilet paper.
2) 45 percent of women surveyed said they hate 55 percent of all the women they’d ever met.
3) 18 percent of bashful Americans don’t vote because of the skimpy curtains at voting stations.
4) 98 percent of racists have attended at least one NASCAR event.
5) 27 percent of boaters prefer Roe vs. Wade.
6) 72 percent of adults are confused by puns.
Here is an answer key of sorts, but remember that polling data only feels right if it skews toward the belief you already hold.
1) The Supreme Court of the United States, minus one justice, has been forced to hear cases with only eight sitting members. Every current decision from the highest court of the land has the potential to be a political coin toss. I grew up believing that as a branch of government, the Supreme Court should be held to a higher standard of impartiality. Remember the statue of a blindfolded woman holding the scale of justice? American history classes burned that image into my retina. With eight justices, at least we have a 50/50 chance of getting all the justice we deserve half of the time.
2) German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer wrote, “Men are by nature merely indifferent to one another; but women are by nature enemies.” In the 19th century Schopenhauer provided us with a reliable predictor of the gender gap, and how women in particular would behave during the 2016 election, throwing rocks at that glass ceiling.