A little Silver-tongued analysis

Hey Waukesha! Want to have your eyes glaze over? Head to FiveThirtyEight on the NYT site and read Nate Silver’s take on the events of our election discovery. Just for warning, this paragraph awaits you:

A better way to think about this is in terms of a 95 percent confidence interval, or margin of error. For instance, based on the 2010 data, we’d estimate that Waukesha County’s turnout should have been 51.5 percent, plus or minus 7.8 percent, meaning that there was a 95 percent chance that the true figure was in the range of 43.7 percent to 59.3 percent. The original turnout estimate, 42.3 percent, falls outside this range, meaning that we can be fairly confident that something unusual (like failing to count an entire city’s ballots) had occurred.

Unless you are happily skilled in scatter plots and regression analysis, you are likely to leave the site shaking your head. Still, the comments are interesting reading, as a number of folks who follow Silver’s work are the kind who value the data over the passion.


  1. jimspice says:

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure there was some deviation out in Waukesha, but it wasn’t the standard kind.