The official results for last night's debate as of 12noon Eastern time are:
Hillary Clinton - 1,258,278 (54.7 percent)
Barack Obama - 1,042,573 (45.3 percent)
99 percent of all votes have been counted.
When you subtract 45.3 from 54.7 you get 9.4.
The last time I checked my use of statistical analysis, 9.4 isn't 10. It's not "double digits". To call something "double digits", a number has to be at least a little bit more than half way beyond "9" heading for "10".
Senator Clinton's margin of victory fell below that halfway point.
Statistically speaking, she really won by 9 points.
Everyone knows that "double digits" is a psychological breakthrough point. "Double digits" is short hand for "big".
Hillary won last night. I respect that. But I am as concerned about accuracy in media reporting as I am in about other issues related to the health of our democracy. I'll write more about larger election integrity issues in the future. But for now, I just want to mainstream media to prove that it knows how to count.
9.4 does not equal "double digits".
Those are the facts.
Please, mainstream media, stop playing around with the psychological aspects of this race. Even though I'm sure it's fun and feels cool to say "double digits", there is way too much at stake for you to be doing that.
Please, mainstream media, prove that you know how to count... prove that you know the difference between facts and emotions.
And if you can't do that, then get out of the game. Because you are hurting America.
Addendum: 5PM Eastern
With 99.51 percent of all districts reporting, Hillary Clinton's lead is down to 9.2 percent. Thanks to PhgMike for contributing this update!
Addendum: Very late Wednesday night
I called ABC, NBC, and CBS News late this afternoon to ask if they would be reporting the results accurately or would they be using the emotional "double digits" phrase. The person at ABC News media relations said they hadn't written the script for tonight's show yet. The person for NBC News media relations said "We'll be reporting it as 9.4 percent". And no one answered any of the several phone numbers I had for CBS News.
When I watched the news shows tonight, I was pleased to see that NBC had kept their word... that Brian William specifically talked about it being a 9.4 percent victory (and appropriate graphics accompanied his comments) and how that wasn't quite the "double digits" win all the pundits had said Hillary needed. But then he said that Barack and Hillary themselves had said "A win is a win" the day before the primary. And that led into the rest of NBC's report on the primary.
The ABC News people ultimately wrote a script in which Charlie Gibson said "Hillary Clinton argues her nearly 10 point victory over Barack Obama shows she's more electable..." while showing a graphic with 55 percent and 45 percent in big numbers, and the vote totals below them. These vote totals, of course, are the ones that calculate out as being 54.7 and 45.3 percent. ABC News made no attempt to define "nearly 10 point," so viewers were left to assume "nearly" meant "almost"... rather than the truth of "below 9.5".
The CBS News people did the worst job at reporting the facts. Harry Smith, substituting for Katie Couric, said "Hillary Clinton's ten point win in the Pennsylvania primary has given her campaign new life and new money...". No effort was made to let viewers know it had not really been a ten point victory. And the graphics CBC News used completely avoided the vote totals. Instead, they showed the delegates gained by each in the primary (82 for Clinton; 73 for Obama) and the Delegate to Date (1715 for Obama and 1585 for Clinton). The saving grace, I suppose, is that the Delegates to Date graphic included the phrase "2025 Needed". I'm calling this a "saving grace" because at least CBS News is still using the real definition of what "winning the nomination" means... the definition in the rules of the Democratic Party... not the definition of winning that the Clinton campaign is using (a definition that changes whenever they feel it needs to in order to show them as being able to win).
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