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August 26, 2005



Don't go home yet! I haven't jumped, but I'm still on the ledge.

Your readers should bear in mind that my USA Today link is describing the same study as Krugman. Someone (besides the socialists at your link) has to explain the USA Today article before this is over, or we won't have gotten anywhere. A good person might be the public editor -- if he ever bothered responding to e-mails.

I'm still not seeing an explanation for the "Gore wins 2 of 3" claim either -- as you note.

You appear to have more time for this than I have. Good. I'll keep checking back.

But I can't stay on this ledge forever . . .


World Socialist Web Site...


cathy :-)

Do any of these articles actually say "Two out of three"?

Well MM figures that one study said 2 & 2, so if you threw out one of the Bush counts, cause well like ya know ya wanted to, then you are left with Gore by 2 out of 3.

(See, I knew that UofC math degree would come in handy someday!)

cathy :-)


True, so he isn't actually lying, he is just choosing his datasets more precisely...


But the "two and two" study included overvotes, and Krugman's "two out of three" didn't. Bzzzzzt! Next!

Barry Dauphin

Perhaps the bigger puzzle is why Krugman is choosing to write a poorly researched op-ed piece about the 2000 election now? It's like actually eating the greenish, mossy-looking stuff that's been sitting in that container in the fridge since the office holiday party--two years ago.


No, overvotes are not part of the story.

However, I have made some dramatic revisions, and it turns out my basic argument is correct.

The original 3 of 4 for Bush relied on the actual recounts in the four disputed counties.

However, critics noted a mixing of standards, and wondered - what if the accounting firm recounted *everything* by the same standards?

Under differing standards, Gore wins 2 out of three of these *hypothetical statewide* recounts.

And note his assertion from last week, with emphasis on "hypothetical statewide":

About the evidence regarding a manual recount: in April 2001 a media consortium led by The Miami Herald assessed how various recounts of "undervotes," which did not register at all, would have affected the outcome. Two out of three hypothetical statewide counts would have given the election to Mr. Gore. The third involved a standard that would have discarded some ballots on which the intended vote was clear. Since Florida law seemed to require counting such ballots, this standard almost certainly wouldn't have been used in a statewide recount.

OK, I am done channelling Paul - the strain is killing both of us.


I'm just not understanding what is the support for the assertion that the study showed Gore winning two of three hypothetical statewide recounts of undervotes. Could you be more specific about this?

Geek, Esq.

Reading Krugman write about the 2000 election. Do you guys own hair shirts or engage in ritual fasting too?

I'd rather watch ten hours of Joe Scarborough discuss the Natalee Holloway case than discuss the 2000 election. Oy.


Maybe that's what Krugman was counting on: people being too bored to check his facts.

Harry Arthur

I'm with the Geek on this one. OTOH, I'm not comfortable that we have gotten to a point where can trust local voting systems to accurately count votes, especially in close elections. Fraudulent activity is yet another concern.

Just look at the 2004 Washington state election for governor - it's deja vu all over again.



Here are links for your articles:

The April 4 Miami Herald article.

The April 5 Miami Herald article, behind a recurring set of cleverly photoshopped images of Bush and Cheney made to look like Beavis and Butthead.

Just copy the text and paste it into a text editor. It'll all be one paragraph, so reading it will take patience.

I'm still slogging through this myself, but I thought I'd share the links. Now please try to explain what relevance this all has to Krugman's description of the undervote recount in 2001.


Paper and graphite haven't the design specifications to deliver the precision needed to accurately determine the popular will when the two candidates are separated by such a narrow margin. That tool, paper and pencil, simply can't measure such a tiny quantity.


Kim, I think you're right. And anyone who can read the text of the second piece I cite above, behind the Bush/Butthead and Cheney/Beavis shots, will come to the same conclusion.

The only rational conclusion is to leave it to the machines and be done with it.


A fair-use excerpt from the aforementioned Beavis and Butthead collection:

Recounts could have given Gore the edge

Broward, Palm Beach checked


Broward and Palm Beach canvassing boards, although besieged by Republican claims that they used lax standards to award votes to Al Gore, could have credited hundreds more ballots to the Democrat if they had counted every dimple, pinprick and hanging chad as a vote, a review of ballots in both counties shows.

In Broward, where the official hand recount added 567 votes to Gore's county lead over Bush, a Herald-sponsored ballot review found that Gore's margin could have been 1,475, if every mark had been counted as a valid vote. In Palm Beach, where the official hand recount added a net gain of 174 votes to Gore's tally, the Herald-sponsored review found a potential Gore net gain of 1,081.

``It's hard to believe that the canvassing boards could have counted even more votes,'' said Broward Republican Party Chairman George LeMieux. ``It was our contention all along that the canvassing board was being extremely loose in their standards.'' The review also revealed that the canvassing boards in both counties had difficulty maintaining uniform standards of judging ballots throughout a process that involved scores of people, hundreds of thousands of ballots, and intense deadline pressure.

Among the ballots examined in Broward and Palm Beach by The Herald and auditors from BDO Seidman, LLP, were hundreds of dimpled ballots credited to no candidate that were virtually identical to scores of dimpled ballots awarded to Bush or Gore. Canvassing board members said they did the best they could to discern voter intent fairly. ``We didn't make the Democrats happy, we didn't make the Republicans happy, so I think we did something right,'' said Carol Roberts, a Democratic county commissioner who served on the Palm Beach canvassing board. Suzanne Gunzburger, a Democratic county commissioner on the Broward board who was accused of favoring Gore, said, ``We represented the will of the voter to the best of our ability. I feel comfortable with the job we did.''

The review, sponsored by The Herald, its parent company Knight Ridder and USA Today, examined 16,669 ballots in the two counties as part of a statewide review to determine the possible outcome of a Florida Supreme Court order that undervote ballots throughout the state be counted, a ruling later blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Florida court's order exempted Palm Beach, Broward, Volusia and 139 precincts of Miami-Dade, where canvassing boards had already reviewed ballots. The results of those counties were not included when The Herald computed that the Florida court's order probably would have resulted in Bush still being declared the winner. But viewing the Palm Beach and Broward ballots, while not illuminating the potential outcome of the state court order, did provide an opportunity to assess the actions of the canvassing boards in their pressured manual counting of all ballots.

Some conclusions: * Had the Broward and Palm Beach canvassing boards used the loosest standard in judging ballots and finished the recount by the court-set deadline -- which Palm Beach did not meet -- Gore almost certainly would have won. He might have gained 2,022 votes in the two counties when Bush's state lead was only 930.

And that tally may be conservative because it excludes the cleanly punched ballots in Broward, 252 Bush votes and 786 Gore votes. Broward election officials say they cannot be certain that cleanly punched ballots weren't also read during the machine count.

U.S. Rep. Peter Deutsch, D-Pembroke Pines, a constant presence at the Broward recount, argued that every ballot mark was made deliberately by a voter indicating a candidate. All impressions should have counted, catapulting Gore over the top.

``The reality is that the canvassing board did not use a liberal standard and did not use the correct standard,'' Deustch said. ``Had they used the correct standard, Al Gore would be president.'' *

Both political parties adopted strategies in Palm Beach and Broward that turned out to favor their candidates. Republicans correctly anticipated that a lenient standard would benefit Gore in those two counties and fought strenuously against it. Democrats fought unsuccessfully for including more ballots as valid votes. *

Consistency was hard to come by. Piles of dimpled ballots never made it to the canvassing boards for scrutiny because elections workers and observers agreed among themselves that they contained no valid votes. The canvassing boards only scrutinized ballots when teams of two election workers and two representatives of the parties did not agree.

``If we missed that many, I'll have to go kill some people,'' said Dennis Newman, a Boston attorney who represented the Democratic Party in Palm Beach. ``That depresses me. Our instructions were very clear. When in doubt, question it or challenge it if you see anything.''

Broward and Palm Beach kicked off their countywide manual recounts with basically the same benchmark for judging a ballot: the bit of paper the voter expels from the punch-card ballot, the chad, had to be detached by at least two corners to count as a vote. But as the recount battle went to court again and again, and the canvassing board members saw dimpled ballot after dimpled ballot, the basis for judging a vote evolved.

In both counties, board members started looking at the whole ballot rather than just the presidential chad in an effort to determine voter intent. In Palm Beach, the canvassing board counted dimples as votes if the rest of the ballot bore similar marks instead of clean punches.

``Generally there had to be some pattern that this was how the person voted,'' said Judge Charles Burton, the chairman of the Palm Beach board. ``Out of 22 votes if you just had two little dings, we wouldn't necessarily count that.''

Broward canvassing board members Robert W. Lee and Gunzburger tended to view a dimple as a vote if there were other marks on the ballot for candidates of the same party. Lee, a Democrat and county court judge, even made a list showing which punch-card numbers corresponded to Democrats and which ones corresponded to Republicans. A quick glance at the list and the ballot would show whether the voter appeared to choose a straight ticket.

``There had to be a pattern of two or three dimples in the Democratic field for me to feel comfortable to count a dimple for Gore,'' Lee said. ``That's the way I interpreted the law.'' Lee's rationale: Many people vote along party lines.

Republicans and some election law experts strongly objected to that standard. Daniel Lowenstein, a UCLA law professor and an expert on elections law, called the voting pattern standard ``profoundly wrong.'' ``If you're going to count marks like that, you're surely going to count some significant number of votes that were not intended,'' he said. If people voted straight-party tickets then Democratic congressional candidate Elaine Bloom should have defeated Republican U.S. Rep. Clay Shaw (she didn't), and Republican Property Appraiser William Markham would have lost (he didn't).

Gunzburger conceded that some voters cross party lines but said, ``We had to come up with a standard, and this is the standard we chose.'' Maintaining even an arguably flawed standard, however, proved impossible. The Herald compared similarly dimpled ballots to see if the pattern held up. While many dimpled ballots that were counted as votes did show a pattern of other dimples, others assigned to candidates did not.

In the week and a half of recounting, boards often worked 14-hour-plus days, tediously inspecting ballots. In Broward, the board did not even break for Thanksgiving. The Palm Beach canvassing board worked non-stop before the recount deadline from 8 a.m. Saturday to 7 p.m. Sunday. All of this came under intense media scrutiny. Reporters and television cameras from all over the world hovered just outside the glass-paned rooms where the canvassing boards toiled. The late hours, life-in-a fishbowl atmosphere, and overall enormity of the task ahead took a toll on board members, despite their valiant efforts.

Palm Beach had a written policy on recounts, which called for the two-corner standard and left little opportunity for partisan objections. But Democratic and Republican activists whittled away at the canvassing board's resolve. ``We blew every policy and procedure with all of that because of the demands placed upon us,'' said Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections Theresa LePore. ``Looking back, we were trying to please everybody, we probably should have said, `This is the way it is.' ''

Adding pressure on boards was the inherent difficulty of assessing punch cards. A chad is no bigger than a freckle. A dimple to one person can be a shadow to another. ``It's like reading tea leaves. Everybody sees something different,'' said William Scherer, a Fort Lauderdale attorney who represented the Republican Party in Broward's recount.

Even canvassing board members acknowledge they could not be 100 percent consistent over the long days. ``I'm sure there's a few [ballots] in there now that if I went back and looked, I'd say these are votes, and if I went through the votes, I'd say some are not votes,'' Burton said.

The order in which ballots came before the canvassing board was another variable. If the board saw a dimpled ballot and called it for Gore, they might call the next dimpled ballot for Bush. But if a similar ballot came three hours later, it might be discarded.

``At 10 a.m. a person might be a little more conservative, and by 10 p.m they may be a little more liberal,'' said LeMieux of the Broward GOP. Multiply the boards' inconsistency times 60 -- roughly the number of election workers and partisan observers in each county who reviewed the ballots first. If they agreed, the canvassing board never saw the ballot. A ballot ruled as bearing no valid vote and not reviewed by the canvassing board had no chance to count.

Ideally, people looking at ballots would get the same training and follow it to the letter, minimizing discrepancies. But different teams behaved differently, noted Jeff Darter, informations technology manager for the Palm Beach elections office. ``There was a huge variation in their intensity, in observing or dissenting.''

Democrats in Palm Beach received clear instructions: insist that any ballot with a mark near Gore be canvassed. As the recount wore on, however, spirits and efforts flagged. ``There were less and less challenges. People were tired, too, so unless it was something glaring, they weren't challenged,'' said Kartik Krishnaiyer, assistant to the chairman of the Palm Beach Democratic Party. Krishnaiyer admits he failed to forward some ballots for canvassing in an effort to deflect GOP accusations that Democrats wanted to manufacture votes for Gore. ``There were a couple of times when I thought that I'd better just let that one go because it's going to be a hard sell,'' he said. ``Still the voter intent was clearly there.''

But others involved in the recount retort that ballot marks don't necessarily reflect voters' choices. ``If you just count a ding as a vote, you're no better off than a machine,'' said Palm Beach County Canvassing Board Chairman Burton, a Democrat. ``If you're just counting impressions, then you're really not interpreting the intent of the voter.''

While the quarrel over standards for manual recounts continues, there's one point where there is little debate. Said Brigham McCown, a lawyer who represented the Republican Party in Palm Beach: ``I think everyone's in agreement it did not work as advertised.'' Herald staff writer Geoff Dougherty contributed to this report.


Now, here is the extract from the ,a href="http://www.wsws.org/articles/2001/apr2001/flor-a20.shtml">April 20 article that prompted me to declare victory:

The real result of the Herald/USA Today study shows that Gore won a statewide victory by a margin ranging from 363 to over 1,000 votes, depending on the criterion for accepting dimpled ballots. The Herald conceded this in a story published April 5, entitled, “Recounts could have given Gore the edge.” The article explained: “Had the Broward and Palm Beach canvassing boards used the loosest standard in judging ballots and finished the recount by the court-set deadline—which Palm Beach did not meet— Gore almost certainly would have won. He might have gained 2,022 votes in the two counties when Bush's state lead was only 903 (emphasis added). In other words, Gore's margin would have increased to 1,119, more than enough to comfortably secure him Florida's 25 electoral votes and thus the presidency.

Even under more conservative standards, counting dimpled chads only if they were present elsewhere on the ballot, Gore emerges the winner by about 300 votes when the study's recount includes a review of undervotes in all Florida counties.

That looks to me like two additional scenarios - Gore wins by 300 in the conservative one, and by over 1,000 in the loose one.

Now, what is the magical third scenario that gives Bush a win?

And why aren't we up to a "Bush wins 3 of 6", not "Bush wins 3 of 4"?

Good questions, and my answer to one does not answer the other, but here it goes - the 2 "Gore Wins" scenarios noted above are based on hypothetical recounts of the four disputed counties.

So ideally, we would have a "Bush Wins" scenario which includes some recount of those four counties.

But I don't see that among the 3 of 4 offered in the USA Today piece.

As to Geek's point - Normally, I don't dwell on or in Florida. And I skipped Krugman's column the first time he raised this, because I knew there were scenarios in which Gore won, and that eventually Krugman would come up with some weaselly explanation that vindicated him.

I just didn't guess that I would be the weasel.


Krugman keying(if he did) on those 4 counties further points out an irony from that cvampaign. If Gore and Co. had really insisted on 'counting every vote', they may well have prevailed. By going for the quick and dirty 'count every vote in 4 Democratic counties' they lost any moral advantage, along with the election.


Then again, 'counting every vote', is the mirage we pursue in hopes of finding the truth of that election. It seems so intuitively simple to count votes. But when you have 7 million pieces of paper, some fairly large percentage of which are marked equivocally, there is simply no chance in hell to determine the popular will, accurately, when it is this close.

Yes, machines are the solution to a situation like this. But how do you get the losing side to trust the machine? Before, at least, they had a pile of paper to mourn over. Now it's invisible electrons, electrons subject to quantum mechanics, no less.




Let's keep this simple. True or false:

"Two out of three hypothetical statewide counts would have given the election to Mr. Gore."

Still looks "false" to me. As you say, where is the third that gives the win to Bush?

I don't think you're the weasel yet. Either that, or I'm not understanding what you're saying.


My official editorial position is "False, but..."

I don't see how Krugman can assemble the various pieces on the table into a "two out of three" claim (and I have made some changes to my post to reflect that).

However - *IF* he does have a coherent explanation, IMHO these additional scenarios reported in the Miami Herald follow-up will be a key part of it.

SO I guess we are closer to seeing where he might be headed (and how he might be plotting his escape). But no, I don't see how he gets out of this.


OK. That's what I thought.


OK. That's what I thought.


In one the article cited above, Krugman mentions that 6 out of 9 recounts showed that Gore won.

A more mundane explanation is that Krugman could have reduced the statement '6 out of 9' to '2 out of 3'


But he references "the third" -- singular.

We really shouldn't have to guess. And we wouldn't -- if the public editor ever returned e-mails.

JM Hanes

"Well.  After far too many words, let's just say that *if* Krugman has an explanation, these two scenarios will be a part of it."

Well, they certainly will be now, won't they? You can almost hear Krugman breathing a sigh of relief as sits down to clarify his correction. What do you bet you don't even get a thank you note either?


I can't spoil the surprise by saying who tiped me to this, but this is the key extract from the April 4 story (the first story, on which I did NOT focus):


The Florida Supreme Court ruled in 1998 that canvassing boards must examine ``damaged or defective'' ballots for voter intent and further defined the term ``defective ballot'' as ``a ballot which is marked in a manner such that it cannot be read by a scanner.''

Though some canvassing boards in optical-scan counties conducted such reviews on Election Night, most boards around the state did not.

Had all canvassing boards in all counties examined all undervotes, thousands of votes would have been salvaged in Broward County, Palm Beach County and elsewhere long before the election dispute landed in court -- and the outcome might have been different, The Herald found.

In that scenario, under the most inclusive standard, Gore might have won Florida's election -- and the White House -- by 393 votes, The Herald found. If dimples were counted as votes only when other races were dimpled, Gore would have won by 299 votes.

But if ballots were counted as votes only when a chad was detached by at least two corners (the standard most commonly used nationally), Bush would have won by 352 votes.

By my reckoning, that is three outcomes for a hypothetical statewide recount, with Gore winning two of them.

Sorry to be switching back and forth like this, but we do seem to be getting there (but where is "there"?).

I also have a different Miami Herald story, supposedly from April 4 2001, which presents this same info, but more clearly broken out in tabular form as different standards. I think this is a Lexis version.


There is Lucky Paul Land. He is still fundamentally warping the truth by presenting only one of many hypotheticals(in this case undervote counts) as 'the way it should have been'.


Re: "Lucky Paul Land" - Let's not take this excerpt from Krugman out of context - he did open his column by noting the "Bush Wins" scenarios:

This reaction seems to confuse three questions. One is what would have happened if the U.S. Supreme Court hadn't intervened; the answer is that unless the judge overseeing the recount had revised his order (which is a possibility), George W. Bush would still have been declared the winner.

The second is what would have happened if there had been a full, statewide manual recount - as there should have been. The probable answer is that Al Gore would have won, by a tiny margin.

The third is what would have happened if the intentions of the voters hadn't been frustrated by butterfly ballots, felon purges and more; the answer is that Mr. Gore would have won by a much larger margin.

About the evidence regarding a manual recount: in April 2001 a media consortium led by The Miami Herald assessed how various recounts of "undervotes," which did not register at all, would have affected the outcome. Two out of three hypothetical statewide counts would have given the election to Mr. Gore. The third involved a standard that would have discarded some ballots on which the intended vote was clear. Since Florida law seemed to require counting such ballots, this standard almost certainly wouldn't have been used in a statewide recount.


However he clearly intended to undermine the legitimacy of Bush's first victory, and he selected and bent the truth to do it. That's sophistry.

I learned all I need to know about Paul Krugman when I learned that he said SS was in crisis 8 years ago.


A few days ago, I actually made the same point Luskin made today -- but I was so wordy and obtuse about it that I'm not sure I should demand credit for it.

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Strangely, not one media member of the Consortium has reached the conclusion that if the Supreme Court had not selected Bush, Gore would have won the election by a Florida recount. Instead, in every instance of Consortium reporting, the big headlines say the data shows Bush won with more "valid votes," that he won because of the partial recount mandated by the Florida Supreme Court, or that he won because he would have had more votes than Gore under Gore's recount request. Buried in some of the stories are the six ways that Gore could have won.
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