Early Returns

Early Returns October 7, 2003

As the networks cover returns from California, you can be sure they'll offer projections, even after only a small percentage of precincts have reported.

Imagine, hypothetically, that California had 130 precincts. Imagine if, after returns were in from 10 of these, 100 percent of those returns showed voters in favor of the recall, with 0 percent opposed.

There's little doubt, in such a scenario, that the news networks would (appropriately) inform us that: "With 7.6 percent of precincts reporting, 100 percent of voters support the recall." The networks would reasonably project from these early returns and make a safe prediction about the eventual outcome.

So what can be reasonably projected from this comment by David Kay, who is heading up the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq:

For example, there are approximately 130 known Iraqi Ammunition Storage Points (ASPs), many of which exceed 50 square miles in size and hold an estimated 600,000 tons of artillery shells, rockets, aviation bombs and other ordinance. Of these 130 ASPs, approximately 120 still remain unexamined.

Kay is 0-for-10. He wants us to believe that this makes it likely he will end up 120-for-130.

That's not how these projections are usually done.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • mitch

    Eh? Seems to me that he wants us to believe that it is likely that he will end up at least 1-for-130.

  • Flaffer

    You reasoning is flawed here. While it is safe to believe that, all things being equal, the aggregate voting among the 10 disctricts will be mimiced by the other 120 districts. However, it is not reasonable to assume that Iraq spread out the WMDs proportionately to each site. It is certainly plausible that they used a small number of the sites for WMD storage.
    I still think there are no WMDs, but for other reasons.