Monday, April 16, 2007

Not really a funny day, but still...

I read this in the comments section at FARK:

Average murder per 100,000 residents in counties won by Bush: 2.1; average murder per 100,000 residents in counties won by Gore: 13.2.

But I thought I'd check. Here's the skinny..

The county-by-county murder-rate comparison presented in this piece is wrong. The actual overall average rate is 5.5, but the average of 2.1 and 13.2 is 7.65, which is too high.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ), in the year 2000 the national murder rate was about 5.5 per 100,000 residents. Homicide data by county for 1999 and 2000 can be downloaded from the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NAJCD), and the counties won by Gore and Bush can be identified using the county-by-county election results made available by CNN. (The NACJD provides not only the number of reported murders for each county, but also the population for each.) The average murder rate in the counties won by Gore vs. the rate in the counties won by Bush can be determined from this data. By calculating the murder rate for each county and then taking the averages, we find a murder rate (defined as number of murders per 100,000 residents) of about 5.2 for the "average" Gore county and 3.3 for the average Bush county. But since people, rather than counties, commit murders, a more appropriate approach is to calculate the total number of murders in the counties won by each candidate and divide that figure by the total number of residents in those counties. This more appropriate method yields the following average murder rates in counties won by each candidate:

Gore: 6.5
Bush: 4.1

There is a distinct difference between these two numbers, but it is nowhere near as large as the quoted...message states (i.e., 13.2 for Gore vs. 2.1 for Bush). Note that the average of these two figures is 5.3, which, as expected, is very close to the reported national murder rate of 5.5.

Draw any conclusions you'd like ;-)

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