November 2010 Archives


In this article, political polling guru Nate Silver uses numbers to show polling error (percentage points from actual Election Day votes for a particular candidate), polling bias (percentage points in wrong direction, e.g. Republican, from actual Election Day votes for a particular candidate), and poll difference (in percentage points, from poll to poll).

In many ways, the numbers are very overwhelming. I did not walk away from this article with more than what the headline and nutgraph told me--that pre-election polls favored Republicans and some are less accurate than others, particularly those that favored Republicans more.

The "Simple Polling Accuracy Analysis" helps makes sense of the numbers by comparing them in a colored-coded chart. But I'm left wondering: How is this rather long article--which repeatedly exceeds G.G.'s rule of having only two numbers per paragraph--more useful than its headline, first couple paragraphs, and this chart?

I don't appreciate Silver's insistence on including so much written interpretation (maybe that's The Times insistence, I'm not sure). Including more presentation of the numbers and less analysis seems considerably more in-line with Silver's recent, shaming views of political bias. In my view, his analysis devalues the use of the numbers he so readily includes; I hardly need them if I simply follow Silver's (probably justifiable) praise of Quinnipiac and shaming of Rasmussen.

Silver is quick to cite the sources of his information (e.g. SurveyUSA, etc.), without which he couldn't work. He also uses math in ways pollsters and news organizations all too often do not--that is, in interpreting error and bias (see red and blue in the chart). Without his math work, his report would be almost meaningless to the general public (or at least to j-schoolers like myself).

Still, if he made his analysis less wordy and let the numbers speak more on their own, interesting themes would resonate more effectively.

National Public Radio is reviewing the Oct.20 firing of Juan Williams, a senior news analyst who made controversial comments about Muslims on Fox News, The New York Observer reported.

Following email response to the action, NPR has commissioned a review of the firing to be conducted by the Weil Firm, The New York Observer reported.

"We recommended and the Board agreed that it would be prudent to commission an independent, objective third party to review both the process by which the decision was made and the way it was implemented and communicated," NPR president and CEO Vivian Schiller said in a leaked Nov. 11 memo obtained by PoynterOnline.

In the memo, Schiller avoided speculation of review findings. "It would be premature to anticipate what form their report will take," she said.

Williams' firing has drawn criticism, including from NPR's own affiliate managers, Fox News reported.

A woman was arrested by Coon Rapids Police Wednesday afternoon for the alleged physical assault of an infant, KARE-TV reported.

The 29-year-old Coon Rapids woman had been babysitting the child and was a friend of the victim's family, the Star Tribune reported.

Police were called to the 106th block of Grouse Street NW at about 1:30 p.m., the Star Tribune reported.

The baby was taken to Mercy Hospital and later to St. Paul Children's Hospital, KARE-TV reported. The child was listed in critical condition.

The sitter was booked in the Anoka County Jail pending charges, KARE-TV reported. Authorities said she admitted to shaking and throwing the baby, according the Star Tribune.

LOCAL: Coon Rapids senior gets perfect ACT, SAT scores

A Coon Rapids High School senior earned perfect scores on the both the ACT and SAT after taking each only once, the Star Tribune reported.

Joel Knighton, 18, is one of 24 Minnesota high school seniors to post top ACT scores. He is one of five to earn a perfect score on the SAT in Minnesota, the Star Tribune reported.

No student in the Anoka-Hennepin School District has earned perfect scores on both college aptitude tests, KSAX-TV reported.

Less than one-tenth of 1 percent of all ACT takers earned perfect scores this year, KSAX-TV reported.

"He doesn't want to tell anybody," Tracy Knighton said of her son's modesty, according the Star Tribune.

NATIONAL: Coach accused of whipping players faces lawsuit

A Mississippi high school basketball coach is accused of whipping players in a lawsuit filed in federal court Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.

Marlon Dorsey, boys basketball coach at Three Murrah High School in Jacksonville, Miss., is alleged to appear whipping a player with a belt in a cell phone video released to media, the Associated Press reported.

The suit contends that Dorsey whipped a senior student "daily and sometimes more than once daily by striking him three times across his buttocks each time," CNN reported.

Dorsey has admitted whipping players. He said in a statement to The Clarion Ledger that he took it upon himself to "save these young men from the destruction of self and what society has accepted," the Associated Press reported.

Corporal punishment is banned in Jacksonville public schools, according the Associated Press.

A district spokesperson would not confirm if Dorsey had been suspended, CNN reported.

"You may be assured that this situation has been addressed," Jackson School Superintendent Lonnie Edwards Sr. said in a statement released Thursday, according to CNN.

Prime minister David Cameron said violent student protesters who rallied Wednesday against Conservative Party-backed tuition hikes should be punished with "the full force of the law," The Independent reported.

Demonstrators "who assault police officers or who smash windows or who break property" should be prosecuted, Cameron told Channel 5 News from the G-20 summit in Seoul, South Korea, according The Independent.

The comments come amid criticism of police response to the protests held at Conservative Party headquarters in London, the Belfast Telegraph reported.

Member of Parliament Nick Herbert said police underestimated the protest's size and called their response "an embarrassment to London and to us," the Belfast Telegraph reported.

"The police have to strike a balance between dealing promptly and robustly with violent and unlawful activity on the one hand, and allowing the right to protest on the other," Herbert said, as reported by the Belfast Telegraph. "Clearly in this case the balance was wrong."

Police have made 57 arrests in connection with the protest violence, reported Sunday.

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