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A Lesson in Politics and Statistics

I enjoy reading a wide array of blogs – Fred Wilson’s perspective as a venture capitalist makes his blog an interesting read (although there hasn’t been much finance talk of late). He’s been talking a lot about Politics as of late. In this latest post, he makes a couple of commonplace assertions that are just plain old false.
“For example, he just re-nominated ten nominees to the federal court who had already been deemed unfit to serve by the last Senate. That’s not compromise.
Oh really? The Senate deemed these nominees unfit? I’ve combed the records and I do not see one case where debate or a vote was brought up about these ten nominees. What I do see is a filibuster that has been launched by a minority of members of the Senate. According to Fred’s assertion, America deemed civil rights as an unfit principle back in the 60’s because a few Senators (Al Gore’s father among them) filibustered for 74 days in order to delay debating and voting so as to weaken the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
“UPDATE:  It looks like half the country agrees with me that Bush is no "uniter".”
Again, this is not true. And it is really misleading for CNN to indicate that. What this in fact says is that half of the 1007 people who have telephones and answered them felt that Bush is not a uniter. There is a key difference here. First, people without telephones are not counted. Second, people who are on the ‘Do Not Call’ registry are left off. Third, people who look at their caller IDs and do not recognize the name and thus don’t answer the phone are not counted. And fourth, people who use their answering machines to screen their calls are not counted because CNN/Gallup doesn’t leave messages. Most people that I know fall into one of these four categories.
Telephone polling is no longer the good indicator it once was. This poll is statistically irrelevant in terms of American citizens and only represents the feelings of people with telephones who are not employing any automated or manual mechanisms to screen their calls</b.

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