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Popular Demand

November 5, 2008

THE THING ABOUT VOLUNTARY RESPONSE SAMPLES is that you can’t draw conclusions about the population you are sampling from them with any measurable degree of certainty. The thing is, in a voluntary response sample, people with strong opinions tend to be overrepresented. See, I learned that in Statistics class.

It looks like 136.6 million Americans will have voted for president this election, based on 88 percent of the country’s precincts tallied and projections for absentee ballots … that would give 2008 a 64.1 percent turnout rate.

[Associated Press: Voter turnout best in generations, maybe a century]

Seems to me like presidential elections are about the biggest voluntary response samples around. So the lopsided electoral college results and the ‘large’ margin of victory in the meaningless popular vote, (large being a difference of 6% points,) don’t necessarily demonstrate ‘broad support’ for president elect Obama. Though past presidents have claimed to have popular mandates on less.

Keep in mind at all times, not all of those 36% who didn’t turn out are apathetic with no sense of civic duty. Many feel disenchanted with or alienated (like me) from the political system ruling class.

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