Election stats column

How did ‘our’ candidates do
last week? Very well, as always

Editorial Page Editor
IT IS WIDELY believed that, like Michael Corleone in “The Godfather II,” I have the power to administer the “kiss of death.” This is not true. In order to administer this kiss, I must first consult with my consiglieri — I mean, my fellow members of the editorial board of The State.
    Actually, it is even less true than that. There is no “kiss of death.”
    It is popular — among people we have not endorsed, and particularly those whom we will never endorse, for political office — to say they are glad not to get our nod, because our endorsement is the “kiss of death.” Our candidates always lose. There is truth in this, yes?
    No. Of course, if there were a correlation between candidates we anoint and those who suffer humiliation at the polls, it would not matter, because we are not trying to make predictions. We are saying whom we believe should win, not who will win.
    OK, so maybe it would matter a little. That might be taken as our being seriously out of sync with the people of South Carolina.
    But it doesn’t matter at all because it isn’t true. I knew “our” candidates usually did pretty well, but it wasn’t until two years ago that I went back and studied 10 years worth
of endorsements versus actual election results. The people we endorsed won about three-fourths of the time in general elections. From 1994 through 2004, we endorsed 85 candidates, and 64 won, for a 75.29 percentage.
    I found out something else.
    Certainly you know that we always endorse Republicans. That is, you know that if you’re a Democrat. If you’re a Republican, you are just as certain that we always endorse Democrats. Obviously, one of you is wrong. Less obviously, both of you are.
    Here’s the skinny:
    It turns out that over that same decade ending in 2004, our candidates split almost perfectly down the middle — 43 Democrats, 41 Republicans and one independent. This was a surprise, and completely unintentional. Party being unimportant to us, we are just as likely to endorse mostly Democrats or mostly Republicans in a given election year.
    It was encouraging to realize how it worked out over time.
    So enough with the history. How did our candidates do this year?
    I was sort of hoping for a big Republican year to make the overall figures perfectly even. No such luck. The Democrats fielded some good candidates, there were a number of Republican incumbents who seriously needed tossing out, and most of our favorite Republicans had no opposition — hence no endorsement.
    The result? As I realized the day before the election, we had endorsed 12 Democrats and five Republicans. Yikes.
    That was setting us up for a really bad year on the won-loss score (not that it matters, but I’d like to see them win).
    Or so I thought. At this point, if you count Jim Rex as a win (and admittedly that’s still a significant if), then 12 of our candidates won, and five lost.
    How is that? Every one of the five Republicans we backed (Thomas Ravenel, Hugh Weathers, Mark Hammond, Joe Wilson and Bill Cotty) won, and only five of “our” Democrats (Tommy Moore, Drew Theodore, Robert Barber, Boyd Summers and Sadie Wannamaker) lost.
    So every time we picked a Republican, the voters agreed with us. They also agreed on seven out of the 12 Democrats.
    If we had been trying to pick winners (which we weren’t), we would have done pretty well. Although it’s not really anything to brag about. Since 12 is less than three-fourths of 17, our running “win” average has now dropped
to 74.5 percent (sigh).
    Separately from the whole endorsement business, I (and I alone) did try to pick winners a few days before the election.
    Tempted by an e-mail invitation, I tried my hand at predicting. To keep myself honest, I posted my prognostications on my blog.
    I was only asked specifically about the eight statewide races on the ballot. I picked six Republicans and two Democrats to win. How did I come out? I was right on five, wrong on three. Both of the Democrats I had picked to win (Grady Patterson, whom we had not endorsed, and Mr. Theodore, whom we had) lost, and so did one of my Republicans (Karen Floyd, whom we had not endorsed).
    That’s a batting average of .625, which would be good in baseball, but is not nearly as good as the success rate of the candidates that our editorial board picks as the best without regard to whether they will win or lose.
    Sure, I did it just off the top of my head, whereas we had spent months choosing our preferred candidates — as had the voters. And they came up with pretty much the same results we did. Smart voters. Smart us, too.
    But I don’t think I’d better give up my day job for predicting the weather. Or anything else, for that matter.

38 thoughts on “Election stats column

  1. Dave

    Brad, since you were 100% on Republicans and only 58% on Dems, you may want to only endorse Republicans from now on. When will the education race count be finished? Are some of the counties bringing the votes in on pack mules or what? They counted the vote in Afghanistan faster than we do.

  2. Randy Ewart

    The pitch fork and torch yielding mob will be here soon to condemn you as the liberal neocon that you are. I say kudos to you and your peeps for a solid and appreciated job.
    BTW, when is Lourie running for Gov?

  3. Tim

    Brad, someday – and that day may never come – I’ll call upon you to do a service for me. But until that day, stop pimping for Joe Lieberman, ok?

  4. Brad Warthen

    Joe Lieberman is my friend, and once a man accepts my friendship, there is no going back. His enemies will become my enemies, and then they will fear him. He should never have worried about that pezzonovante Lamont.
    And remember — Tattaglia is the pimp, not me. He could never have outfought Santino. It was Barzini all along.

  5. bill

    When’s the last time The State endorsed a Democrat for president?
    You are right about the editorial board being in sync with SC voters,as witnessed by the amendment 1 votes,the vast majority of you are bigots.
    “His enemies will become my enemies, and then they will fear him.”Brad
    Hey,sounds like you’ve got the right stuff to become the new dictator of Iraq.

  6. Lee

    Terror Leader Crows About Republican Defeat In U.S. Midterm Elections
    BAGHDAD, Iraq, Nov. 12, 2006
    (CBS/AP) Al Qaeda in Iraq taunted President Bush on Friday to keep American troops in the country because the terrorist organization had not shed “enough of your blood,” bragging that it now has 12,000 fighters in the war-torn country.
    The terror group also welcomed the U.S. Republican electoral defeat that led to the departure of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and vowed to continue its fight until the White House is blown up.

  7. Spencer Gantt

    Why do homosexuals want to “get married” in the first place? For financial advantage mostly, I think. Can’t blame them for that, but only 10% of their population does so where it’s possible (Massachusetts, San Francisco, wherever??)
    To me, it would make more sense to just make all “couples” equal so there is no advantage to being “married” however one defines that. For taxation purposes, insurance, wills, property ownership — base it all on the individual, not on a couple. Make wills easy and cheap to procure. Then when anyone wants to be a couple or partners or just together, they can get “married” however, whenever and wherever by anyone legally authorized to do so (minister, JOP, ship captain). In a church, in a bar, in a cat-house. Take finances out of it and it all becomes equal.
    Why is it when someone has an opinion different from yours, it makes them a “bigot”?

  8. Herb Brasher

    Spencer, the state (the institution, not the newspaper!) has an interest in protecting marriage, because it is the building block of any society. It isn’t just a nice idea for two individuals who want to get together. Covenant relationships (as opposed to mere contracts) are foundational to healthy personality development. Taking away any financial obligations or priviliges resulting from that covenant only tends to downgrade it. Marriage is a case where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

  9. Dave

    Herb, thats the most sensible post you ever made. The gays don’t have much hope for support on the political front especially after the Democrats (led by gays) demonized the gay Foley. After what they did to Foley, the majority of Americans now believe all male gays are pedophiles. But it helped them win an election even if it was a fraudulent scheme. So I expect to hear increasing anger and bitterness from the gays which is unfortunate.

  10. bill

    You’re right,Herb,and it is also a civil right.A civil right that gays are being denied.To say otherwise is disciminatory and bigoted.Gays will not remain second-class citizens forever.It’s called progress and it will happen.

  11. Spencer Gantt

    No obligations are TAKEN AWAY from anyone. MARRIAGE between a man and a woman continues on. The STATE has no business dictating marriage to anyone. Churches do. Those who choose churches continue to get married. Marriage is not downgraded because financial obligations and privileges are not TAKEN AWAY from anyone. Nor are obligations and privileges GIVEN to anyone except as they take them upon themselves and/or attain them. Everyone is treated equally.
    Those who DICTATE that their way is the only way deny freedom and equality to others, and will see Mr. Bill’s prognostication come true.

  12. Randy Ewart

    after the Democrats (led by gays) demonized the gay Foley. – Dave
    This coming from the person demeaning gay people as “queers”. I am amazed at the level of your hypocrisy and your continued willingness to stand up for Foley.
    Most Americans are smart enough to know the difference between a sexual predator who is gay and gay people in general. The democrats, unlike Dave, have a serious problem with a 50 year old hitting on MINORS REGARDLESS of gender. Dave takes pity on Foley and turns a blind eye to the teenage boys.
    It seems the marriage issue involves separation of church and state. IF marriage is a function of the church, then how can government intervene? IF it’s a function of our government, then government can oversee it BUT is it really a covenant act then?

  13. Ed

    Yeah Randy, but you’re conveniently ignoring the the fact that democrats very clearly used the issue of homosexuality (regardless of age I might add) during the last month to attempt to suppress conservative turnout. That is an unarguable fact and you know it, whether you’ll admit it or not. Now, I don’t know whether that particular issue had any real effect upon the turnout…I think there were other issues in play that were more critical, but this tactic was definitely used. Like Dave, I wonder how homosexual people feel after being fraudulently used as nothing more than tools to advance an agenda. Not good I’d bet, but this demonstrates the utter hypocrisy of liberals in America: They will say or do absolutely anything in order to get elected, and if that means throwing a pet constituency under the bus, then so be it. Ed

  14. Ed

    Sorry about that, but I was attempting to post just as Brad was introducing another string. I didn’t think I was getting through. Given Randys’ liberal bent and general dislike for me, I probably didn’t get thru even though I posted three times, but there ya go. Anyways, sorry about the spam. Ed

  15. Randy Ewart

    Like Dave, I wonder how homosexual people feel after being fraudulently used as nothing more than tools to advance an agenda. – Ed
    Well Ed, I wonder how homosexual people feel after being called “queers” by Dave. So you support his use of this deragotory term?
    You base your conclusion that I’m a “liberal” because I take issue with such hateful remarks such as Dave’s?

  16. Steve

    What’s this we hear about the editorial board of The State meeting with Inez Tennenbaum’s husband to discuss potential questions for Karen Floyd’s meeting with them?
    Fact or fiction?
    Also, we notice on Will Folks’ blog that the news on public school report cards for 2006 is going to be REALLY bad…
    “Last year, 25.9% of our public schools were either failing or below average. This year, that number has mushroomed to 35.3%. That’s one out of every three public schools, people, in the event you were educated in one of those failing S.C. schools and don’t do percentages that good.”
    Maybe it’s Inez’s way of giving Jim Rex more room to improve on?
    One third of SC schools either failing or below average… what we need is more tests and more administrators!!!

  17. Brad Warthen

    Well now THAT’S an interesting rumor. Trouble is, every time I see Samuel lately, he’s talking about his troubles with the city of Columbia over the homeless issue.

    Also, think about it — how hard is it to come up with questions for Karen Floyd? You’ve seen me do it on TV — or you could have, if you watched it. If you didn’t here’s a link to the primary debate, and here’s one to the general election one.

    By the way, I don’t generally do a lot of preparation of questions ahead of interviews in any case. I just sort of go in knowing whatever I know from having followed the issue, and then see where the conversation goes. This drives my better-organized colleagues — one in particular — up the wall.

    That’s a long way of saying the answer is "fiction" — and not very plausible fiction, either.

    Brian, I don’t understand your question — what about 2004 and 2006?

  18. Randy Ewart

    Steve, your simplistic demogoguery leaves out some pertinent information:
    The high schools in 2005 which scored EXCELLENT had an average poverty rating of 47.8 (lower rating = lower poverty).
    Schools with GOOD rating had a 60.0 poverty rating.
    Schools with AVERAGE rating had a 68.6 poverty rating.
    Schools with BELOW AVERAGE had a 76.5 poverty rating.
    Schools with UNSATISFACTORY had an 81.4 poverty rating.
    The SATs follow the same pattern. Households with income between 0-10,000 have the lowest SAT average score. 10-20 the next lowest and the pattern continues to the top with households with 100,000+ having the highest average SAT scores.
    Clearly these education measurements are measuring something else as well.

  19. Mark Whittington

    “Joe Lieberman is my friend, and once a man accepts my friendship, there is no going back. His enemies will become my enemies, and then they will fear him.
    Brad, I’m more convinced than ever that The State needs to fire you. Thank God that all people don’t think like you do.

  20. Dave

    Randy, what is your problem with words? Gays call themselves queer and dont have an issue with it. Are you aware of the gay group called Queer Nation? Since when did queer become a derisive term? Do you really think we would have Queer Eye for the Straight Guy on TV if it was derogatory. You must live a sheltered life. Also, surveys are showing evangelicals stayed home in this last election, costing the GOP many seats. In 04, 74% of them came out, 53% voted this year. If anyone thinks Foley and Haggard had no effect, they are wrong. Other issues were there too but it had a decisive impact and cost Allen and Talent their seats for sure. Reality.

  21. Randy Ewart

    Using that “logic” Dave, I take it you throw around the “N” word as well. Your vitriolic attitude behind the use of the word “queer” was reflected in the statement “I want all queers out of the republican party”. Sounds like this was more than a simple word, but a state of mind.
    Your boy Foley had an effect. There are GOPers who vote republican at all cost. BUT middle American turned their collective backs on the right. Take it like a man Dave.

  22. Randy Ewart

    Dave, you still avoid the questions about your service.
    In what battle were you injured?
    In which war did you fight?

  23. Steve

    Unfortunately, your statistics do not explain why so many schools did worse last year. A jump from 26% to 34% underperforming schools can’t be just brushed aside as a result of poverty.
    Could it be “test fatigue”?
    Could it be that these schools need to drastically alter the way they teach?
    What exactly has Inez done in eight years
    to improve SC schools? The numbers say little to nothing.

  24. Lee

    Randy is saying that the teachers and schools have no impact and therefore no responsibility for academic achievement. It is all due to family life and incomes.
    Therefore, why should the taxpayers spend any more money on public schools which have such an insignificant effect?

  25. bill

    Brad,I noticed that you didn’t understand Brian’s question(I didn’t either),but would like an answer to mine:When is the last time The State endorsed a Democrat for president?
    I’m truly interested in knowing the answer.
    My guess would be,30 years ago,is that correct?

  26. bill

    “Like Dave, I wonder how homosexual people feel after being fraudulently used as nothing more than tools to advance an agenda.” Ed
    I didn’t feel “used”.I was happy to see a sexual predator exposed.My only disappointment was that he was not arrested.

  27. Dave

    Randy, now you are beginning to obsess over my Army service. How weird is that? What do you want next, my innoculation records? If you are so open with your private information, how about publishing your college transcript here for all to see. You do that and I will put my DD Form 214 online. Deal or NO Deal?

  28. Randy Ewart

    Dave, more red herrings.
    You dismiss Kerry’s service in COMBAT yet you champion W’s service in the Air National Gaurd. While Kerry was in MORTAL danger, you broke a tooth.
    Enough said about your efforts to criticize him.

  29. Randy Ewart

    Steve, the whole report card issue is convoluted. If you have it figured out then share. Explain how the scoring was altered between last year and this year. Explain how the improvement ratings are calculated and how it changes for the higher level ratings. Contrast our test with those of other states in terms of how the ratings are assigned – e.g. 80th percentile for excellent.
    If it’s as simple as posting a percent on the blog, you should have no trouble.

  30. Steve

    It is simple. The tests and report cards are worthless. They do nothing but confirm what we already know – poor kids do poorly in school. They measure nothing and their presence only serves to reduce the number of teaching days. The last 15-18 school days of elementary and middle school are centered around tests (either prepping, taking, or recovering).
    It is interesting that when the schools were scoring well on the report cards, the results were broadcast far and wide. As has become the custom with the public education system, there’s no such thing as bad news – only people who hate public schools.
    Now that reality has set in, it’s time to fault the system – a bureacracy created by bureaucrats to protect a educational monopoly. This is Inez’s responsibility — one she is more than abdicate when things start looking bad.
    Simple question – how much more money do you think it would take to overcome the built-in disadvantage students from poor families have when it comes to education?
    50% more? 100% more? or is the answer “it wouldn’t matter”?
    No more testing. No more report cards. Let teachers teach and let the public decide for themselves whether the schools are good or not. People who care will either get involved in fixing the local schools or move to a district where people do care. That’s the way it should be.
    No amount of money will solve apathy.

  31. Randy Ewart

    FINALLY, someone offers a thoughtful post with some critical analysis on education. I appreciate your perspective Steve.
    Mike Campbell is the only candidate this past cycle who mentioned the poor schools and students. His position was that our suburban schools aren’t the problem, it’s the poor rural schools (aside from an effort to send them to private school). To deal with this, he proposed a holistic approach in which efforts are directed to boost the local economy. He explained that we can’t simply pour more money into the poor schools if the community remains mired in poverty.
    Unfortunately Steve, it’s not simple because too many people believe a single score is an appropriate measure for an entire system.
    I still take issue with the bashing of Inez because the schools boards, legislature, and parents get a free pass in the accountability for education.

  32. Lee

    So Randy wants a free pass for Inez and the educrats, too.
    The blunt reality is that a great many of the poor students have not parents, or just one parent, or a grandparent, or a drunk parent.
    If the school system is going to claim that it can do no more because of all these outside factors, they need to demonstrate that they know what each factor is and what effect it has on their inability to teach basic skills, so someone else can get to work fixing the problems.
    If they can’t provide the details, they really are just making up excuses for themselves.


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