Where do Official Group Stories come from?

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2017

Times hails "black voter surge:"
Anthropologically speaking, where do Official Group Stories come from?

They come from the internal hard-wiring of a profoundly faulty species. That said, to watch on Official Group Story spread, consider this news report in today's New York Times.

John Eligon's report advances a current Standard Story. In hard copy, the report appears beneath his pleasing headline:
Win in Alabama Shows Muscle of Minority Voters
Is that what Doug Jones' win over Roy Moore shows? Maybe yes, maybe no; we'll offer some data below. But here's the passage where Eligon recites the Official Story—where he pleasingly says we saw a "black voter surge" this week, reciting script as he goes:
ELIGON (12/15/17): Many people have long felt that Democrats come around during election time asking for their votes, but then do not fight for the issues that matter most to them, several political operatives said. They have also expressed concern that Democratic spending on minority communities was not commensurate with the loyalty that they show to the party. An analysis three years ago found that 98 percent of the money the major Democratic committees spent on consultants went to those who were white.

The eight Democratic organizations with budgets of at least $30 million last year all had white leaders, according to Steve Phillips, an activist and fund-raiser. Mr. Phillips also found that of the first $200 million that independent Democratic groups allocated during last year’s presidential election, none of it went to mobilizing black voters.

Some say they are seeing the beginnings of a shift, after black voter surges in Virginia and Alabama.

About 30 percent of the electorate in the Alabama Senate race was black, according to CNN exit polls,
making the black share of the vote in that election higher than it was in both of Barack Obama’s presidential victories. Mr. Jones won 98 percent of the votes among black women and 93 percent among black men.
Is that accurate? Was there a "black voter surge" in Alabama this week?

Anthropologically speaking, let's note the way Eligon toys with elementary facts to tell us The Current Official Group Story:

In support of his pleasing claim, Eligon starts by saying this: "About 30 percent of the electorate in the Alabama Senate race was black, according to CNN exit polls."

Inevitably, Eligon has rounded up. CNN's actual number is 29 percent.

After turning 29 into 30, Eligon makes another pleasing claim. He says this "mak[es] the black share of the vote in {Tuesday's] election higher than it was in both of Barack Obama’s presidential victories."

That simply isn't true. According to the exit polls from those prior elections, the black share of the Alabama vote was 29 percent in 2008 and 28 percent in 2012. This year's number matches 2008, beats 2012 by one point.

Already, Eligon has made a flatly inaccurate statement. In the larger sense, by withholding the previous exit poll data, he produces a grossly inaccurate picture of the overall reality.

In fact, black turnout as a percentage of the overall vote was almost exactly the same in those three elections. Eligon goes on to say this:

"Mr. Jones won 98 percent of the votes among black women and 93 percent among black men."

That's true, though exit poll data are drawn from samples and are therefore subject to error. That said, Jones' share of the black vote is very similar to the percentages Obama received. Here are the numbers from each year's exit poll:
Percentage of black vote received in Alabama
Obama 2008: 98 percent
Obama 2012: 95 percent
Jones 2017: 96 percent
There's little to choose among those three numbers. Black turnout was roughly the same each year as a percentage of the state. So was the percentage of the black vote received by the Democrat.

If those facts are true, why did Jones win this year, while Obama never came close? Answer:

Mainly because of a change in the way white Alabamians voted. Here are the relevant numbers from the three elections to which Eligon referred:
Percentage of white vote received in Alabama
Obama 2008: 10 percent
Obama 2012: 15 percent
Jones 2017: 30 percent
The biggest difference in this year's election involved the way white voters voted. Jones swept the black vote, as Obama did before him. But he did substantially better among the (much larger) white vote.

Where do Official Standard Group Stories come from? In this particular case, we can't answer that question. (As a general matter, they come from our deeply flawed human desire to dream up the stories we like.)

We can answer these questions:

Was there a "huge black turnout" this year, as a Washington Post headline said? Was there a "black voter surge," as Eligon has claimed?

It's hard to know why you'd want to say such things except from a desire to push an Official Preferred Group Story. Concerning that huge voter surge, the number of black voters in these four elections looks like this:
Total black turnout, Alabama
2008: roughly 609,000
2012: roughly 581,000
2016: roughly 595,000
2017: roughly 390,000
We're not sure why you'd want to call this year's turnout "huge," given those previous turnouts.

In fact, many fewer black Alabamians voted this year, as compared to the numbers who voted in those previous elections. What makes this year's turnout "huge?"

We're also not sure why you'd want to say that this year's turnout constituted a "surge." Again, this is the percentage of the statewide vote cast by black Alabamians:
Black vote as a percentage of total vote, Alabama
2008: 29 percent
2012: 28 percent
2016: 28 percent
2017: 29 percent
Why would you say that a "surge" occurred this year?

In fact, black turnout was way down this year; white turnout was down a bit more. To the extent that there was a "surge," it occurred among the (sharply reduced) number of white voters who did turn out. They gave Jones 30 percent of the white vote, two to three times as much as Obama got.

(There were no Alabama exit polls in 2016. There is no number for Candidate Clinton's percentage of the white vote.)

Anthropologically speaking, Homo sapiens is the species which like to make stupid sh*t up. Once somebody makes some story up, tribal minions all stampede off to repeat it.

Eligon is one of those hacks. As liberals, do you ever get tired of being talked down to like this by a bunch of silly people on "cable news" and at the New York Times?

Was there anything "wrong" with black turnout this year? Well actually, yes, there maybe was, unless you think that 40 percent, give or take a few points, is a sensible turnout rate when your state is about to send a total crackpot lunatic to the United States Senate.

Overall turnout was 40 percent! Black turnout was sad; white turnout was worse.

Afterwards, somebody dreamed up a story. We're really "defining democracy down" when we brag about this year's turnout.

At any rate, we liberals all began to recite. Anthropologically speaking, we're wired to do sh*t like this.

We've behaved this way for many years. Today, we have Donald J. Trump in the White House. Are you happy with how this has worked?

Alabama exit polls: To access the exit polls, click as shown. There were no Alabama exit polls in last year's Trump-Clinton election:
2008 exit polls

2012 exit polls

2017 exit polls

32 comments:

  1. Bob should stop using the phrase 'we liberals'. Since he spends all his time attacking and nitpcking liberals, and ignoring the larger point -- that an off year election saw a larger (or at worst equivalent) AA turnout to Presidential turnouts involving an AA President. This was what helped Dems to win.

    Should and could Dems do better ? But no matter, what Dems do, Bob will bitch and nitpick, and dismiss any Dem successes, and defend Rs. He seems to want Dems to lose so he can bitch eternally about 2000. In short, he could be a 'useful idiot' for Trump, although given Bob's miniscule followin, even the useful part isnt correct. Bob should just drop the pretense of wanting Rs or Trump to lose and call himself a true Trumptard.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. anon 2:15, you are massively dumb. You miss the valid point TDH is making. No doubt, without AA vote, Jones wouldn't win, and this is the case in many elections. But it is silly in this race to attribute Jones' win to a "surge" in AA votes, when the number of AA voters was far less than in previous elections and the percentages of AA votes has remained essentially the same. The big story here would be the surge in white voters for Jones in this election, without which he would have lost.

      Delete
    2. AC/MA, your stupidity is extreme. 2008 and 2012 were not just Presidential years. They were years where a historically unprecedented event was happening -- an AA President running for office and then relection. That sort of benchmark sets an incredibly high barrier, and reaching some metrics there is incredibly good news for Dems.

      Bob and his (handful of) acolytes insist on claiming a glass is empty. Given that Bob spent probably a dozens posts heroically defending Moore (someone whom even many conservatives were pleased to see lose), I conclude that Bob wants to see conservatives triumph so he can continue to bitch about 2000.

      Delete
    3. anon 5:54 - I won't argue who is stupider - but of course I know there is bigger turnout for presidential years, and that accounts substantially to the decline in numbers of AA voters in the Jones/Moore contest from the earlier cited presidential year elections. Still, a decline in total number of votes contradicts to some degree the idea that the Jones vote was a "surge." There can be more than one determinative factor in an election. In this instance, the percentage of total voters who were AA in the Jones/Moore contest was about the same as in the presidential year elections. That Obama got trounced in Alabama in those elections, but Jones beat Moore in this election indicates there was a surge in white votes for Jones - which I think is the real significant thing. Whether that will continue in the future, I don't know. This isn't about being an "acolyte" of TDH, and I reiterate it is moronic to claim TDH is a "Trump supporter."

      Delete
    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    5. Bob isn't alone in "trying to make liberals better by being especially demanding of their journalists." For anyone with an interest in a more organized (and effective) approach to criticism of liberal and mainstream media from a left perspective than what the Howler provides, I highly recommend the media watchdog group FAIR (www.fair.org). They deserve monetary support, but you can sign up for their email updates on their home page without contributing. Great writing and analysis by Janine Jackson, Jim Naureckus, Adam Johnson, and others.

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  2. What was Alabama black turnout in prior non-Presidential election years? Maybe that's the better basis for comparison?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bob should definitely post that data, and a good call.

      While his case seems strong in refuting Eligon, additional voting profiles would be informative in order to make his case, which seems to be, black voters have always voted in relatively large numbers.

      But in this case, it was the whiteys who made the difference.

      Maybe we're not tilting towards a fascist theocracy after all.

      Leroy



      Leroy

      He may have posted it already, but whence his stats?

      Delete
  3. Bob's comments on the black turnout in Alabama are fallacious. In geneal, the effect of any action/circumstance on some outcome is NOT measured by the before/after difference of some metric, but by the difference berween the after and an estimate of what would have happened had the supposed causal effect not occurred. In this instance, that would require a statistical model including data regarding black participation in off-year, COMPETITIVE US senatorial elections. Comparisons with black turnout in Presidential elections are utterly irrelevant.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And not just any Presidential election, but a comparison with an AA President running.

      Delete
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      We kindly URGE you to not respond without have read the entire text. Those who mail without have read everything, ask questions that are answered here!!

      WARNING:
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      AND INCONGUROUS!!.
      It tears me up when we receive bitter emails for Jobs with complains from most clients with hacking issues about past SCAMs by uncertified fake hackers like most you see here, which is disappointingly inadequate, leaving their mess for us to deal with eventually (WE DON'T MEAN TO BRAG ABOUT THAT).

      HOW WOULD YOU KNOW??

      You won't know until you fall a Victim but can be attentive to potential danger, error or harm if you take note of these:

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      They take your money and never do your job!!

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      All fake! , just a way to lure you toward getting ripped OFF!.

      3, posting fake testimonies and comments to trick you into feeling save and secured.
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      2◾ to screen in real hackers (gurus only) in need of job with or without a degree, to speed up the availability of time given to for Job contracts.!!

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  4. Somerby has some "interesting" calculations here. Eligon says "About 30 percent of the electorate in the Alabama Senate race was black".
    The key word here is "electorate." The first error Somerby makes is assuming the number of blacks who voted this year is 390,000. He derives that by taking 29% of the reported total of votes cast (1,346,147). But that's not likely to be the true number. He is basing his calculation on the percentage of blacks polled in the exit poll, a poll which Somerby himself calls "subject to error."
    According to the Washington Post:
    'On Election Day, voter turnout in Alabama’s “black belt” was as high as 75 percent of normal presidential election turnout'

    According to the Census Bureau, for Alabama, 579,000 blacks ("black alone") voted in 2016. Assuming that's "normal", that comes out to 434,250 black voters this year, which makes up 32% of the total number of voters this year. (The number is higher if you use the "black alone or in combination " figures). These are just guesstimates, but show how important it was to get out the black vote. If you want to quibble with the description "surge", then ok, but it's a significant result nonetheless. As far as off year elections, the most recent one I could find for Alabama was 2014, when only 414,000 blacks voted. One might also remember that blacks only make up about 26% of the Alabama population. Another interesting stat is the number of registered black voters in Alabama increased by almost 100,000 since 2014, representing a more than 16% increase (That could arguably be described as a surge of sorts.)
    Now, the white vote for Jones was also a significant factor, as well as the youth vote, all of which has been discussed on every program I've watched and every article I've read.
    Now, having said all that, the numbers showed positive signs for Democrats, but also indicate a continuing challenge in places like Alabama.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. maybe if more than 30% of African Americans voted, the GOP would lose more elections.

      Delete
    2. Actually AC, let's not use Somerby's shaky understanding of statistics here. A far higher percentage of blacks vote than that. Looking at 2016, the total black population of Alabama was 953,000, and 579,000 voted. That's 60.1% of that population. This year, it's closer to 46%. As a percentage of registered voters, the numbers are quite similar to those of white voters: in 2016, it was about 83% for both groups. You can check the data yourself. I always double check Somerby. It's usually a good idea.
      You do realize that the white-black split in population in Alabama is about 74/26. And the white vote there is rather monolithic towards the GOP. That's a serious structural hurdle that Democrats face down there.

      Delete
    3. And one more thing AC: if more than 26% of the number of ballots cast this year came from blacks, then they have overperformed relative to their percent of population. I was also trying to point out that the percentage of votes cast this year may well be higher than the Obama elections, which contradicts what Somerby is saying.

      Delete
    4. One final thought: when quoting "low" voter turnout figures, people often use the percentage of "eligible" voters. The turnout rates go up dramatically once a voter is registered. Hence, the importance of voter registration.

      Delete
    5. 'maybe if more than 30% of African Americans voted, the GOP would lose more elections.'

      And if Bob had been given his head, and the media had ignored the accusations against Moore, the Dems would have lost this too. Bob would doubtless write 40 posts explaining how this is all because of the press actions in 2000.

      Delete
    6. And I hope that AC's comment doesn't reflect the way that Somerby has misled some of his more susceptible readers with his bogus statistics.

      Delete
    7. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    8. Bob seems to be very upset about the phrase "voter surge".
      He is taking to task the media that uses that term.
      Although TDH is a meta news site and not a news site, it occasionally reports on the dogs that didn't bark.

      Not this time. He ignores the paucity of reports on the surge in GOTV in the Black community, which was real.

      Here is a partial thread from Al Giordano:
      Excerpts from Al Giordano Twitter feed 12/12/2017
      Just spoke with a source in the Mobile (AL) County NAACP. Here are some things that are happening today on the ground in Alabama that did not happen in the 2016 election.
      The state NAACP instructed its local branches to call every registered voter in the state who did not vote in 2016. The Lower Alabama chapter made it through the entire list successfully.
      A dozen paid canvassers have been going door to door in the Mobile area all week. That did not happen in 2016,
      What was last year an ad hoc effort by “a group of friends” to offer rides to the polls is today more than a dozen organizations doing rides-to-the-polls with resources for drivers.
      Once the Jones campaign had money it bought billboards in African-American neighborhoods with the election date and a quick blurb about Jones. This was not on highways but in places where one normally sees fast-food or cigarette ads.
      The Mobile NAACP crunched the numbers and showed local pastoral leadership that whatever they had done in recent years to turn out voters wasn’t working. The pastors then pushed for and got resources to do congregation-wide robo calls and voter reg tables at church events.
      At school alumni parties the local NAACP handed out several thousand flyers with election dates, registration deadlines, absentee deadlines, voter ID requirements. They also brought these paper reminders door to door in a canvass.
      These reports are also consistent with how the DNC spent money to win special elections in Virginia and other states. More money for field and GOTV. Less for TV ads. This is the @TomPerez era at work.

      @AlGiordano Dec 13

      Delete
  5. Lost in the Alabama election post-mortem, at least at this blog, is the likelihood that Doug Jones would have won by a substantially greater margin than 21,000 votes but for the vote-suppression tactics by Alabama Republicans, starting with the ridiculous photo ID requirement, then closing down DMV offices in predominantly black districts to make it harder for eligible voters to vote. Then Alabama Secretary of State Merrill - of "you're going to have to show some initiative to vote in this state" fame - conveniently forgot to do his job and inform Alabama eligible voters that a 2017 law allows those with prior felony convictions for certain crimes to vote.

    Different tactics but for the same reasons, Democrats would have also won more convincingly in Virginia as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And then there's a new form of poll tax: unpaid fines disqualify voting eligibility.
      http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2017/10/too_poor_to_vote_how_alabamas.html

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    2. For this blog, the really important takeaway is to defend Moore, attack Rachael Maddow and diss Doug Jones victory. Musn't forget the really important stuff !

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  6. "Today, we have Donald J. Trump in the White House. Are you happy with how this has worked?"

    Yes, I sure am: it gives hope. The system, having deteriorated slowly from around 1968 (or was it from 1944, the 'second bill of rights'?), now found the bottom. It's collapsing, and -- with any luck -- something better will emerge to replace it...

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    1. Forget Trump. If you want the United States to collapse, vote the straight Republican ticket. Try to toss in a few 'the liberals were right all along" as you watch it do so.

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    2. Do trolls dream? If only Phillip K. Dick were still alive to answer that.

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  7. I'm sure your Kremlin bosses welcome US system collapse.

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  8. There is a surge because unlike the first 3 cited, it's a special election and midterm/special election turnout is usually much whiter. There is also a surge because the NYT reported worry that black voters would not turn out for this. Democrats are right to be excited that minority turnout efforts were successful in this election because they can learn from that in some of the Congressional races next year.

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