The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Bush black vote bonanza - something doesn't add up

Odd thing: an LA Times piece praised by the good folks at Campaign Desk [1] - Susan Stranahan, again - seems to have gone seriously wayward in its numbers [2].

The general thesis is that Bush's faith-based farrago and pandering to 'social conservatives' won an edge among a section of black voters that was critical to his victory in November.

In particular,
In the crucial state of Ohio, where the faith-based program was promoted last fall at rallies and ministerial meetings, a rise in black support for Bush created the cushion he needed to win the presidential race without a legal challenge in that state.

Walk through the numbers with me:

Bush won Ohio by 2,859,764 to 2,741,165 or 118,599 votes. For the Kerry campaign to get interested in a challenge, the gap would have had to be no more than, say 20,000 - the Bush-Gore gap in Florida was much tighter, of course.

I have no numbers for the black vote in Ohio, but, assuming they voted as heavily as the average, one can get a handle on what swing would have been needed for the black vote to have constituted Bush's cushion - say, 100,000 votes.

The population of Ohio is around 11.5m - my extrapolation; at the 2000 census, 74.6% were adults, 8.58m.

Of the total, 11.5% were black; assuming no differential between the black percentage of the total and of the adult population, one gets a black total of 990,000 (I'm rounding, obviously).

In the 2004 election, 5.772m votes were cast, or, as a proportion of the estimated adult population, 66.3%; applying that percentage to the estimate of the adult black population gives 660,000.

That means, one percentage point of the 2004 Ohio black vote was 6,600 votes.

According to the Times piece, Bush got 11% of the black vote nationwide, an increase of two points over 2000. That increase, it says, was larger in swing states.

Clearly, in Ohio, the increase would need to have been absurdly large to have made up Bush's cushion:

If Bush got 9% of the Ohio black vote in 2000 [3] - that would be 60,000 votes. The Times hypothesis is that the increase in the black vote supplies his cushion of 100,000 or so - I think if Ohio blacks had almost tripled their Bush vote, we'd have heard about it, given national rise was a paltry two points!

No doubt it's my sums, and not those of the left coast's top paper, that are out by miles.

  1. Can they kindly decide on what their name is and stick to it?

  2. Pot and kettle? Always a danger.

  3. The difference between the 2000 and 2004 populations is 1% or so: it's negligible for present purposes, I think.

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