April 23, 2008

Has Anyone Looked at the Numbers?

All news outlets are reporting that Hillary Clinton beat Barack Obama in Pennsylvania’s Democratic presidential primary by 10%. This is significant news because pundits insisted that Clinton needed to win by “double digits” for a “real” victory over her opponent, since Pennsylvania has long been considered a Clinton state.

The only problem with the news reports is that they are apparently wrong. I discovered this when I began searching news sites like CNN and NPR for the actual vote tallies. None of the sites seemed to give vote totals, only percentages.

I tracked down the election returns on the Pennsylvania Department of State Web site and was surprised to learn that Clinton did not win by 10%. As of 9:00 AM this morning, her lead is something like 8.5%, a significant difference, given the expectation game. Yet, in its 9:00 AM newscast, NPR was still reporting a 10% Clinton victory. (I have informed the network of the error.) What are reporters reporting, anyway?

Here are the current numbers from the Pennsylvania Department of State:
Vote totals
Because the numbers will change, I captured the Department of State tally, which can be viewed as a PDF here. The current Web page can be viewed here.

NOTE: As I am posting this, the numbers have changed slightly. With 99.34% of the districts reporting, Hillary Clinton has gained 0.01% over Barack Obama. Her lead is still 8.5%.

UPDATE 4/28/2008: The Department of State Web site now reports 100% of the ballots counted. Clinton’s victory is not 1,259,466 to 1,046,120. Her final lead—still not in double digits—is 9.26%.

UPDATE 5/9/2008: Pennsylvania still lists primary numbers on the Web as “unofficial returns,” but, presumably, the numbers are increasingly close to what will be the final, official tally. As of today, Clinton has 1,260,937 votes to Obama’s 1,046,822. Her lead has now inched up to 9.28%. Clinton would do well to point out that she received 20.45% more votes than her opponent, however.

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