Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Numbers don't lie, except when they do

According to political pundits, Hillary Clinton needed a decisive double-digit win in yesterday's Pennsylvania primary to stay in the race. And Today, many media outlets (like NPR) are touting her "double digit" margin of victory
Winning the largest state left on the calendar — by a double digit margin — gave the Clinton campaign at least two more weeks' lease on life and legitimacy.
But was it a double digit margin? In another story, NPR clarifies that Clinton's victory in PA was actually just 9.2%. Here are the total votes from the Pennsylvania Secretary of State (with 99.51% of districts reporting).

Sen Clinton 1,238,232 votes (54.57%)
Sen Obama 1,030,703 votes (45.43%)

So Hillary's actual winning margin of 207,529 votes was just 9.15%. The "double digit" margin is derived by rounding Clinton's percentage up to 55% and Obama's down to 45%.

As more decimal points get added to their percentages, her lead gets smaller and smaller, from 10% to 9.2% to 9.15% to 9.147%. That's just a non-decisive "single digit" margin of victory, unless you count the digits to the right of the decimal point.

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