Editorial: The numbers game
Facts under attack in this election season
Former N.H. Gov. John H. Sununu
It is a longstanding clichÃ© in the sports world that "stats don't lie." In politics, however, every poll and numbers report that is released comes under intense scrutiny, with politicians and pundits accusing anything that does not support their position as biased.
On Oct. 1, the UNH Survey Center released a poll that showed President Obama had a 15-point lead over Mitt Romney in New Hampshire. First, former N.H. Gov. John H. Sununu slammed the results, saying "what comes out of UNH is extremely volatile."
Then N.H. House Speaker Bill O'Brien joined Sununu in dismissing the poll, writing on a private Facebook page for state Republican candidates that UNH "over-sampled" Democrats in order to skew the results, according to The Concord Monitor.
O'Brien wrote, "The fact that the Obama campaign (brought) Bill Clinton to Durham Wednesday demonstrates that there is exactly zero chance that the UNH survey has a shred of accuracy."
Besides the fact that the Clinton visit was planned before the UNH poll was released, it's hard to see O'Brien's point. New Hampshire is widely known as a swing state, and it's inevitable that both candidates will campaign heavily in the state all the way up until the general election.
Both Sununu and O'Brien appear to be accusing the UNH Survey Center of being tainted by the university's supposed liberal bias. But it was the UNH Survey Center that showed poll results correctly predicting that Republicans would take control of the N.H. House of Representatives and Senate in 2010.
On the national scale, the recent jobs report numbers outraged a number of people who thought the numbers were juked to make up for Obama's poor performance in last Wednesday's debate.
Former General Electric Chief Executive Officer Jack Welch began the debate when he tweeted, "Unbelievable jobs numbers..these Chicago guys will do anything..can't debate so change numbers."
Welch was accusing the Obama campaign - those "Chicago guys" - of tweaking the jobs report that said the U.S. economy added 114,000 jobs in September and that unemployment had dropped to 7.8 percent.
A number of experts from both sides of the aisle quickly countered Welch and other conspiracy theorists. Former George W. Bush spokesman Tony Fratto tweeted that that the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics was not changing the data, as it would be a scandal of "enormous proportions." Others defended the integrity of the bureau and it's data-gathering process.
It is not surprising in the age of social media and information inundation that numbers will be questioned more than ever. But to suggest that polls and data that have long been trusted sources are skewed just because they don't support your political beliefs is juvenile and unnecessary.
These claims also provide yet another needless distraction in election coverage that needs to focus on each candidate's platforms and plans for a country that is still struggling.
Sununu's and Welch's public comments only offer unfounded reaction to unfavorable numbers. O'Brien's comments, while on a private page, do the same. Their accusations further the partisan rift that has contributed to a poor political atmosphere in the United States.
Get Top Stories Delivered Weekly
From Around the Web
More tnhonline News Articles
Recent tnhonline News Articles
Discuss This Article
MOST POPULAR TNHONLINE NEWS
GET TOP STORIES DELIVERED WEEKLY
FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER
LATEST TNHONLINE NEWS
FROM AROUND THE WEB
- Wondering if it's Time to Buy a New Car? Just Check Your...
- Smartphone to Become Wallet -- Are Customers, Businesses...
- Grandparents, Keep Your Meds Up and Away From Young Children
- As Insurers End Coverage for Compounded Drugs, Patients...
- 4 Tips to Start Your Day a Little Earlier
- Join the Force to Fight Lung Cancer in Women
- If You Want to Help Avoid Back Problems, Stop Slouching
- Common-Sense Strategies From a Natural Marketing Guru
- 10 Steps to Help Older Adults Prevent Slips, Trips and Falls
- Stay Cool for Next to Nothing: Power Down the AC on...
COLLEGE PRESS RELEASES
- Peace Corps Director Calls on College Students to Make a Difference After Graduation Through International Service
- USA NETWORK AND VERIZON LAUNCH THE “CHARACTERS UNITE COLLEGE TOUR” COMPETITION FOR STUDENTS TO BRING A USA NETWORK CELEBRITY AND A WORTHY CAUSE TO THEIR CAMPUS
- WHEN GEORGIA SMILED: THE ROBIN MCGRAW REVELATION FOUNDATION TEAMS WITH PIVOT AND STUDENTS OF THE WORLD TO LAUNCH THE #iASPIRE GRANT CONTEST
- Latino Groups Launch National Campaign to Deliver Record Latino Turnout for 2014 Midterm Elections
- The Power of Peer Support: Sheryl Sandberg's "Lean In" Hits Campuses