# Statistical Tie

I don’t know about the rest of you folks, but I’m a bit disturbed that neither of the contenders for the Presidency seem to comprehend that the difference in the Florida vote is smaller than the margin of error, and for that matter would continue to be smaller than the margin of error if a recount put Gore ahead of Bush.

Gentlemen: we don’t know who won. We lack the ability to know with sufficient accuracy. Y’all tied.

I don’t suppose there’s much chance of anyone acting Presidential enough to acknowledge this and consider where we go from here?

that the popular vote difference is less than the margin of error. But as long as the electoral college is the final word, we leave the decision in Florida to the electors. My concern is that the electors decision is going to be partisan. Oh well. I rather enjoyed Robt. D. Rayfords’ commentary this morning about the same thing, IT’S A TIE! Rule the results null and void for president and have a national run-off election. Two choices. Even the folks here in Florida shouldn’t be able to screw that up. (If you believe that, I have some wonderful property for sale here!)

later, Tom.

That may all be true but it’s beside the point. Someone has to be declared the winner so you do the best you can and live with the results.

Also, I’m not sure using a statistical margin of error is meaningful here. Statistics is used to predict things when finding the real answer is impractical. A poll is used to get a feeling for how a group of people think without talking to every member of that group. In a national election you are asking every member of a group (US citizens) what they think (at least all those who actually vote). So, in the end, there really is a definitive answer unless you say there is some bias in the polling process. Theoretically you simply count all the votes and even winning by 1 is the real answer. No margin of error need be considered.

The operative word here is “count.” It is a statistical tie because the margin of victory is less than the counting error. En masse, the counting machines are just not accurate enough to ensure that 537 votes is an actual victory.

Let’s say you are going to count 2 trucks of apples. One has 15,000 and one has 15,001. You miss 1/1000 apples (out of no fault of the apple). Can you tell which truck has 15,000 and which truck has 15,001? These numbers, scaled up to 6,000,000 are similar to the numbers in Florida.

Or you have a wager with your office buddy that you weigh less than he does on Dec 12. You agree to use a specific bathroom scale which you bring with you and on the morning of the 12th you weigh in at 191 and your buddy weighs 190. That’s so close you want a second reading, so you get on the scale again and it points to 189. Your buddy wants a second reading too, of course, and sees 188. You notice that his car keys are sitting on his desk whereas yours are still in your pocket, so you toss your keys to the desktop and get on the scale and it says you weigh 192. You both check the calibration on the scale to make sure it points to 0 before you do it again. It says he weighs 191 and that you weigh 188.

That’s a statistical tie.

I, too, have contended this since day one. My solution is that Florida’s 25 electoral votes be split between the two. (They can fight over the odd vote, if it makes a difference.)

To be fair, I would do the same in any state that fell within a reasonably determined margin of error. (It would have been best to determine said margins of error before the election, to avoid partisan wrangling of the statistics.) That makes the odd votes easy to deal with–award them alternately. That way you’ll never have more than one odd vote, and it would be impossible to end up with tie and one outstanding vote, since you would have an odd # of votes at that point.

But no, you’ll never hear that from the mouth of either side. Each candidate must hold fast to the idea that the voters of Florida clearly and decisively stated that he should be the next President, and that his opponent is clearly a wanker.

Dr. J

This is what I was getting at in my response to Stod’s Seminole post over in IMHO.

Yeah, it was really close, but Gore lost by the method everyone expected to rely on going in. You don’t get to go changing the rules after the fact just because you were really really close and could have won under another interpretation. How about taking some responsibility for screwing up yourself and letting it be that close in the first place? But cut the bullshit on both sides about “taking the high road” blah blah. Both sides just want to win. At nigh any cost. And drop the pretense of being “objective” and advocating what is “clearly mandated” by the law. How stupid do you think we are. (Well, you might be right!)

Now if you want to discuss improving things to lessen the possibility of this happening in the future …

Gotcha on the margin of error thing…I see what you’re saying.

Unfortunately (from my point of view) the answer to this is simple. If the votes cannot be tabulated in a way that gives a decisive answer then the Florida legislature, by law, picks their electors to represent them in the electoral college. Of course, this means that GWB will win.

Damn, I guess it is spelt “Stoid” and the post is right here in GD. Sorry.

Statistical tie, my ass. We’ve got perhaps 13,000 votes, net, that Gore was inadvertently done out of in Palm Beach County; that’s well beyond the margin of error.

I’d bet the house that the same thing happened in Duval County, to the tune of a few thousand votes, net. And in Duval County, the ballot invalidations occured because people followed instructions.

And a statistical analysis by the Miami Herald makes a good case, independently of the butterfly ballot confusion, that if everyone’s vote had been accurately recorded and counted, Gore would’ve won Florida by 23,000 votes.

It has taken a remarkable combination of events to give Bush his razor-thin nominal lead. Only if we discount those events do we have a statistical tie.

I agree with RTFirefly that, “if everyone’s vote had been accurately recorded and counted” – and if everyone who tried to cast a vote had been able to do so – Gore would have won. The official result, though wrong, was official, and the offical result was a tie. As edwino pointed out, “It is a statistical tie because the margin of victory is less than the counting error. En masse, the counting machines are just not accurate enough to ensure that 537 votes is an actual victory.”

The laws did not allow anything to be done about any of the facors that gyped Gore out of thousands of votes. The laws did not allow us to recognize that the official result was a tie and therefore split Florida’s electors between Bush and Gore. (My take? We need some new laws!)

But would not the laws have allowed Florida’s results to be disallowed? Either on the ground that the election was too tained to be valid, or on the ground that it was impossible to determine the actual winner?

But, y’know, the funny thing is, everyone’s vote CAN NOT be accurately recorded and counted. That’s WHY we have a “margin of error”.

A bit less idealism and a bit more realism, please.

Are we still beating this dead horse? (And yes, this horse is quite dead, but we can call in a vet to make sure).

Well, I’m still mystified. I watched it happen, step by step, and I still don’t believe it. One of the strangest aspects of the whole thing is that so many Americans seem to just not care if the guy who gets inagurated is or is not the rightful winner.

It’s not that I’m a big Gore supporter. I prefer him to Bush, but not by much. To me, what mattered was that we settle the matter correctly, and I don’t think we suceeded.

I’m with TXLonghorn here, wondering if this horse could possibly be kicking still…

It seems like such a simple thing, but perhaps it bears repeating. At no time did Al Gore lead the counted or recounted or re-recounted or re-re-recounted vote in Florida. He lost 'em all. You can whine about chads and voter intent (as if you had the slightest clue about that!) all you want; the fact remains that Dubya won all the marbles.

If you must bitch, channel your frustration and anger toward remodeling the voting system! Work to change it so that what you allege to have happened can’t possibly happen again! Nobody likes a whiner!