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May 12, 2012

An Observation on Reporting Election Results and the AP

Last Tuesday, with the help of a few carefully selected cheeseheads, we reported returns from Wisconsin for the recall primary. The method used wasn't even off the ground, but was successful enough for me to notice several glaring differences between what the #AOSHQDD had and the official Associated Press numbers. None of these were inaccuracies on our end. The differences resulted from a chronic delay in Dane County (Madison), Waukesha County, and others for a substantial part of the evening, and there is no reason to doubt we will see the same thing on the night of the recall.

Many in the past have thought that the lefties in counties like Dane withheld their results deliberately until the Republican areas rolled in; and more recently, that Waukesha officials "caught on" and were reporting theirs last deliberately. The simpler explanation which became glaringly obvious was poor reporting by the AP.

Dane County reported all of its returns quickly and in substantial chunks through the evening: at about 10%, 25%, 50%, 75%, 95%, and 100% in, roughly. The time delay between the Dane County Clerk uploading the information and the Associated Press listing the numbers ran as much as an hour to an hour-and-a-half apart. There was no holding back of votes, just the reporting by the press. The same went for Waukesha, which updated at a surprisingly fast rate Tuesday. Even when all votes had been counted and uploaded, there was a sizable delay in reporting on the AP's part. In fact there was a delay in reporting nearly 30% of the statewide result.

I had suspected the lethargy back when tracking the Presidential primary. Waukesha was late as always, but finally reported big chunks of its vote around 1am West Coast time. The numbers appeared right here on Ace of Spades hours before the Associated Press bothered to recheck and update. Last Tuesday simply confirmed my earlier hunch.

It is clear the traditional method, I suppose waiting for a phone call or email, is snail-like compared to what we are more than capable of now that we aren't solely reliant on their numbers. Procedural sluggishness rests at the root of this, and in a way that is even worse than the previously assumed "intented" delays.

Intentional "scheming" to hold back reporting at least implies some sort of reasoned method. But having a second-rate hack poll junkie obsessed with numbers pump them faster because you're too lazy to click "refresh" on a screen? That's just sad.

Update- wow, just realized this wasn't sent to drafts after the first...draft.

So the hell am I faster than actual reporters at giving you numbers?

digg this
posted by CAC at 05:51 PM

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