Nasty Letters To Crooked Politicians

As we enter a new era of politics, we hope to see that Obama has the courage to fight the policies that Progressives hate. Will he have the fortitude to turn the economic future of America to help the working man? Or will he turn out to be just a pawn of big money, as he seems to be right now.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Hannity, Scarborough, Henninger, and O'Reilly deceptively used maps to overstate Bush victory

FOX News Channel host Sean Hannity and MSNBC host and former U.S. Representative Joe Scarborough (R-FL) used a county-by-county map of the 2004 presidential election to overstate the margin of President George W. Bush's victory. On the November 4 edition of FOX News Channel's Hannity & Colmes, Hannity declared: "It's all red. ... When you break it county by county it is a red [Republican] country." On the November 4 edition of MSNBC's Scarborough Country, Scarborough said: "County by county, the United States was washed in red." Wall Street Journal deputy editor Daniel Henninger made the same claim in his November 5 column: "[I]f you adjust the map's colors for votes by county (as at the Web sites for CNN and USA Today), even the blue states turn mostly red." Discussing the presidential electoral map on his November 3 radio show, FOX News Channel host Bill O'Reilly made a similar misleading remark that the United States is "sea of red except for the [blue] pockets."

The map touted by Hannity, Scarborough, and Henninger is misleading: The overwhelming majority of U.S. counties are Republican; however, counties carried by Democrats are generally more densely populated. The county-by-county map, therefore, visually overstates the Republican share of the vote, because the Democratic votes are concentrated in fewer counties that cover a smaller land mass.

Princeton University professor Robert J. Vanderbei used "county-by-county election returns and latitude and longitude coordinates for county boundaries provided by the U.S. Census Bureau" to create a "JAVA graphic" map that better indicates the breakdown of voter preference in the 2004 election (view Vanderbei's map from the 2000 election here). Rather than just depict a county as red or blue, Vanderbei's map takes into account the percentage of the Democratic and Republican vote in each county, thereby using a shade of purple to represent closely contested counties.

Similarly, many of the more sparsely populated western states that Bush won cover a large amount of land mass, whereas many of the northeastern states that Senator Kerry won are densely populated but cover a smaller amount of land. In fact, the 20 states that Kerry won contain 48 percent of the U.S. population, according to 2003 U.S. Census Bureau numbers. Therefore, the electoral map O'Reilly cited is also misleading. A size-adjusted electoral map of the red and blue states provides a more accurate visual for how red and blue the United States actually is.

The facts clearly show that the United States is not a "red country." Bush received 51 percent of the vote, compared with Kerry's 48 percent; Bush's advantage in electoral votes was 279-252, with results from Iowa pending.* With the exception of the 2000 election, Bush's popular vote margin of about 3.6 million votes (out of approximately 115 million total votes cast) was the narrowest since 1976, when then-Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter (D) defeated then-President Gerald R. Ford (R) by about 1.7 million votes. Bush won by the narrowest margin of any wartime incumbent president in U.S. history. As Wall Street Journal Washington editor Albert R. Hunt noted, it was "the narrowest win for a sitting president since Woodrow Wilson in 1916."

*Iowa has since been appointed to elChimpers



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