Monday, January 14, 2008

Are socio-economic differences between hand counted and machine counted precincts responsible for the New Hampshire discrepancies? A preliminary look


This guy is coming up with some results that look very much like mine (see previous posts). Note that in his analysis, Obama, Clinton and Edwards are the only ones to be affected by the machine vs hand count. That sort of flies in the face of expectations. If there are really fundamental differences in voting behaviour between similar sized reporting units, they should affect all candidates. Typically, the other candidates combined have fewer than 100 votes in even the large reporting units. Because of the much smaller sample, we should expect more variance in their vote, not less. Chance variation should have a larger effect on them than on Clinton, Obama, or Edwards.

I've started doing a little exploratory stuff on the socio-economic factors. I won't have time for anything systematic for a while. But for now, it looks like for a group of 10 similar sized reporting units around the smallest machine counted unit (in terms of vote total), Clinton won the machine counted one and 3 hand counted ones, while Obama won the remaining 6 hand counted ones.

Here are the variables I have so far for the units. The machine counted unit (Clinton) is first, and the hand counted ones (Obama) follow:

PopDens; Per Capita Income; Median Household Income
26,9; 16944; 38654; (Clinton, Machine)
55,7; 28503; 60433; (Clinton)
25,9; 23263; 44659; (Obama)
19,9; 19617; 48125; (Obama)
20,1; 19973; 35556; (Obama)
35,4; 17089; 36000; (Clinton)
130,1; 19675; 46150; (Obama)
10,1; 17998; 28523; (Clinton)
34,3; 17169; 38125; (Obama)
32,2; 23112; 55000; (Obama)

The machine counted Clinton unit is only remarkable for having the lowest Per Capita Income (not by much), but it has a relatively healthy Household Income. Both Obama and Clinton won in high and low Population Density areas, and in high and low Income areas. Clinton won a very low Density/low Income area as well as the highest Income area (with the second highest Density). If these rough numbers are any indication, finding clear demographic differences between the machine and hand counted units of similar size will not be easy.

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