Lying With Numbers

It always amuses me to watch the bloggers over at the Corner bring up statistics and numbers, in large part because it seems like everytime they do, they’re being even more dishonest than normal. It’s like a poker tell or something; when a Cornerite starts throwing numbers at you, get out your bullshit sniffer because they’re trying to obscure a point. For instance, here’s Mark Krikorian on the importance of the Hispanic vote in this election:

I get bored with this biennial ritual, but the raza-hustlers and the open-borders crowd are back touting the awesome power of the Hispanic vote. AP’s contribution yesterday: In key states, Latino vote fueled Obama’s victory. A bunch of these interchangeable groups is having a press conference today in D.C., announcing that “Our voice was heard at the polls, and we will continue to make sure our voices are heard.”

Well, no.

According to the usual suspects, the benchmark in garnering Hispanic votes for Republicans is Bush’s 40 percent showing in 2004. So what would have happened if McCain had matched Bush’s performance, instead of the 31 percent he actually got? Based on CNN’s exit polls, McCain still would have lost Nevada, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, not to mention, say, California and New Jersey. Conversely, even if Obama had won 90 percent of the Hispanic vote in Texas, instead of 63 percent, he still would have lost the state. With the possible exception of North Carolina, where the results were close but the number of Hispanic voters is too small to register in the exit poll, there doesn’t seem to be a single state where the Hispanic vote was critical to the outcome.

Now, broadly, this is true. Obama still would have won the states he won if he’d carried the same margin with Hispanic voters, and even without some of those states he still would have won the Presidency. But, obviously, this is a function of the fact that Obama won in a landslide, but it’s still incredibly dishonest, or at least lazy, on Krikorian’s part.

For one thing, Krikorian just assumes that the change in the margin of Hispanic votes was evenly distributed amongst states, and that Hispanic voters made up the same share of the electorate in 2008 as in 2004, neither of which are true. In Nevada, for example, Kerry won Hispanic voters 60-39% in 2004, in line with the national average, but in 2008 Obama won them by an astounding 76-22%. And, on top of that, Hispanic voters accounted for 15% of the Nevada electorate in 2008, as opposed to 10% in 2004. And while it’s true that this may not have made a difference for Obama, it certainly made a difference for George Bush. If Kerry had managed Obama’s margins with Hispanic voters, at their 2008 share of the electorate in state-by-state breakdowns, he wins Nevada, New Mexico, and Florida (where the Latino vote went from 55% in favor of Bush to 57% in favor of Obama) and thereby taking the Elecotal College. Of course, Krikorian probably doesn’t want you thinking about that, nor about the fact that the reason you can’t single out the influence of a swing in Hispanic voters this year is because Obama’s victory was that broad, but one simple fact remains; the Republican Party cannot win elections in the future if they continue to be the party of Mark Krikorian and other anti-Hispanic demagouges.