How big was the turnout in Virginia?


We’re always amazed by this: How big was the turnout in Virginia this week?

This morning, Trip Gabriel reports on the way some Republicans in Virginia are responding to the loss of the State House. At one point, Gabriel discusses the size of this week’s turnout in the state.

The Times is supposed to be our smartest newspaper. We’re always amazed by this sort of thing:
GABRIEL (11/7/13): For Democrats, the great lesson of the night was that they had the ability to reassemble significant parts of President Obama’s coalition even when he was not on the ballot. Virginia has a history of younger voters and minority voters, who provided a surge for the president one year ago, dropping away in nonpresidential elections.

Turnout on Tuesday by white and older voters did not significantly rise compared with last November. The same percentage of African-Americans, one in five voters, went to the polls, according to exit polling conducted by Edison Research. They overwhelmingly picked Mr. McAuliffe.

Voters 18 to 29 years old represented 13 percent of the electorate, lower than for the presidential race but not as much of a drop-off as in previous off-year elections, said Ashley Bauman, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Party of Virginia.
Turnout by white and older voters did not significantly rise compared with last November? We’re always amazed by journalism like that.

Turnout did not significantly rise? Below, you see overall Virginia turnout in these two elections:
Total turnout in Virginia elections (approximate):
November 2012: 3.7 million
November 2013: 2.2 million
Gabriel specifically cites two groups. He says turnout by those groups didn’t significantly rise.

Can that really be what he means?

You may feel you know what Gabriel means. That isn’t the point we’re making.

Gabriel writes for the New York Times. Why can’t he and his editor write what he actually means?

Our simplest journalistic standards are just extremely low. On a wide array of topics, discussion spirals from there.


  1. Good gried, the NYTimes report is beyond understanding.

  2. "This morning, Trip Gabriel reports on the way some Republicans in Virginia are responding to the loss of the State House."

    We're always amazed by this sort of thing. State House can mean the capitol building. It can also mean either the governor or the lower house of the bicameral state legislature.

    What does Somerby really mean?

    You may feel you know what Somerby means. That isn’t the point we’re making.

    Republicans lost the governorship in Virginia. But, unknown to casual readers of this post, the party maintained its majority in the Virginia House of delegates. The NYT article to which this post links makes that clear.

    Somerby focuses on criticism of journalists. He disaggregates with complex statistics, but doesn't engage in disambiguation with simple English. Why can’t he write what he actually means?

    1. State House versus state House.

    2. Interesting distinction. And I know of nowhere on the planet where the governor's office is referred to as the State House.

    3. Anon. @ 2:36

      Neither did I, but I used Somerby's tongue in cheek favorite source, Wikipedia for a definition, and it included all three.
      As in "Terry McAuliffe led to Democrats taking back the Virigina State House." It is used by those who heap all praise or blame on the executive. Unibranchers.

    4. A few minutes in the google finds current and historical references to "State House" as the official residence for the governors of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Ohio, and Montana. The governors of Virginia have lived in the Governor's Mansion, also called the Executive Mansion.

  3. Oh, Bob, please don't tell your lizard brain readers that Gabriel was saying older white voters should have turned out in greater numbers than they did a year ago.

    They will only read the out-of-context snippet you provided and take your word as Gospel, as they always do.

    What Gabriel clearly says in his story is that the demographic composition of voters this year was pretty close to the demographic composition last year.

    And in off-year elections, and especially off-off-year elections, the percentage of older, white voters is always higher.

    That is what is sending chills down the spines of GOP analysts as we speak. They could always count on that key component of older, white voters showing up in off-years, while minority, single, and younger voters stayed home in disporportionate numbers compared to presidential elections.

    1. You fail. The conclusions you're reaching are not demonstrated by the incomplete and ambiguous information provided in this bungled article.

    2. Oh, of course it is "bungled". After all, Bob told you so. You don't even have to read it because every article he tells you is bungled is indeed bungled, and there is no good journalism going on anywhere.

      And of course, the only people who realize that are Bob and his merry and shrinking band of followers, who just looooove to say that they are so much smarter than everyone else with "lizard brains."

  4. Why do any of you bother cloaking your comments in a specious issue? Why not just cut to the chase and say "We think Bob is yucky"? Better yet, go away.

    1. Why don't you ever engage in any constructive argument in yucky Bobby's defense? Please stay.

    2. Why? Because people (reasonable people, anyway) don't "engage in constructive argument" with trolls.

      They ignore them or berate them. Quite rightly.