Noting the way Amy Chozick reports!

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2016

Her latest strange dance with two facts:
Will Hillary Clinton end up winning the popular vote by more than two million votes?

We don't know, but that's what Amy Chozick has said. The assertion was made in a front-page report in Sunday's New York Times.

We were struck by two different factual claims in Chozick's front-page report. This is what she wrote about the popular vote:
CHOZICK (11/13/16): Mrs. Clinton lost narrowly in several battleground states, and by the time all ballots are counted, she appears poised to win the popular vote by more than two million votes.
At present, Clinton's lead over Trump is roughly 670,000 votes, with votes still being counted.

Will the margin eventually top two million votes? We have no idea, but we were very much struck by Chozick's trademark slapdash sourcing. To wit:

If you read the hard-copy Times, you were given no source at all. Chozick simply made the assertion. She made no attempt to explain or justify what she said.

On-line, Chozick's copy provides a link to a November 11 post by David Leonhardt. The brainiac had written this:
LEONHARDT (11/11/16): Hillary Clinton didn’t just win the popular vote. She won it by a substantial margin.

By the time all the ballots are counted, she seems likely to be ahead by more than 2 million votes and more than 1.5 percentage points, according to my Times colleague Nate Cohn.
Leonhardt at least provided a source. He sourced his claim to his colleague, Nate Cohn, who had just finished mispredicting the outcome of Tuesday's election.

If you clicked Leonhardt's link, you were taken to this. You saw what Cohn had tweeted shortly before 10 o'clock on Wednesday morning:
GOUREVITCH (11/9/16): Do you have an estimate of total Clinton and Gore vote anywhere?

COHN: at the moment, Clinton 63.4m, Trump 61.2
At the moment! Four days later, the estimate had telephone-tagged its way to a Sunday front-page news report, with no explanation offered.

The estimate may turn out to be right, of course. But getting back to Chozick's report, it's amazing to see this kind of slapdash sourcing on a Sunday morning front-page news report in the nation's most brainiest newspaper.

(At least it wasn't derived from someone's last few nouns! Also, it wasn't sourced to an unsourced claim by Maureen Dowd.)

Might we offer a thought? The status of the popular vote is a real news topic. If the New York Times has a real way to forecast where the totals are going, that should be the occasion for an actual news report.

Instead, the kids have been throwing this claim around ever since Wednesday morning, making no serious attempt to explain its provenance. Many people have seen the claim and have assumed that they're looking at the latest expression of the New York Times' well-known liberal bias.

No one has been given a way to evaluate the accuracy of the projection. We're simply supposed to trust the kid who bungled everything else.

Reporting standards at the Times are virtually non-existent. Truly, these are a bunch of wayward kids shipwrecked on a vastly overstocked desert island.

We were also struck by Chozick's citation of the cost of Clinton's campaign. This second passage appeared in yesterday's front-page report:
CHOZICK (11/13/16): Before Mrs. Clinton spoke on Saturday, her finance director, Dennis Cheng, thanked the donors on the call, each of whom had raised at least $100,000. The campaign brought in nearly $1 billion to spend heavily on data efforts, to disperse hundreds of staff members to battleground states, and to air television advertisements—only to fall short to Mr. Trump’s upstart operation.
"The campaign brought in nearly $1 billion?" There's a pitiful story behind that claim. We'll turn to that topic tomorrow.

This weird newspaper is Lord of the Flies. There's no other way to put it.

11 comments:

  1. Having never said one good thing about Obama's performance in office, his presser today was pitch perfect. This is the president who, if not influenced by the worst of his party over the last 8 years, would have ensured a Trump defeat.

    This might be his first exhibition of strong leadership tempered by humility. He appears to have become a grown up.

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  2. And here I thought the Times had given Chozick the option of an extended vacation.

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  3. The number of non-citizen votes tops 3 million.

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  4. The actual difference as of this evening was 771,000 votes. As Bob pointed out, the Times ought to have reported the actual difference (based on an incomplete count) rather than some estimate. The fact that the estimate was so poorly done and that it favors the Democrats makes it even worse.

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    Replies
    1. Reporting the actual number would be misleading if the votes are still being counted.

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    2. You have a point, Anon 6:50. But, what's the alternative? Somebody's wild a**ed guess of the final count is not factual news.

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  5. CNN is still reporting 30% of California remains uncounted. If true, and there's no reason to think it's not, then another million votes or so could well be added to Hillary's lead. Dave Leip's Atlas of US Presidential Elections has her up by nearly a million votes as of now. So 2 million is not out of the question, and I think a 1.5M is a near certainty. Btw, that would 3x Gore 2000 lead.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, another million votes MIGHT be added to Hillary's lead, but that's not certain. First of all, as Gloucon X points out, CNN might be wrong about the number of uncounted votes. Second, those who voted absentee (like me) might not support Hillary in the same proportion as the total statewide population of voters.

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  6. In 2012 the final poll average was off by 3%, but no one really took notice because they were off in the direction with the leader, Obama. Obama led by 1% in the final poll ave. and won by 4%.

    But this time the final poll ave was Hillary by 3% and it looks like the final will be Hillary by 1%. Close enough to barely lose the EC.

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