Math Is Hard

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THE PLANK APRIL 24, 2008

Math Is Hard

Yesterday, Mike pointed out that conventional wisdom set the bar for Hillary Clinton at about ten points, and she won by only 9.2, but was nonetheless deemed to have exceeded expectations. Partly that's because it appeared Tuesday night as if Clinton's margin would hit double-digits. As Mike put it, "the final margin often matters less than the presumed margin when people like Russert go to bed."

Now, however, we know that the final margin was actually 9.2. And yet the press keeps reporting otherwise! I opened my Washington Post this morning to see Dan Balz and Perry Bacon, Jr. referring to "Clinton's 10-percentage-point victory in Pennsylvania," and columnist Robert Novak invoking "a 10-point landslide."

Look: in my opinion, the difference between a 9-point win and a 10-point win is meaningless. But if the media is going to make a fetish out of the distinction, it seems to me that they ought to report it correctly.

--Jonathan Chait

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