October 9, 2012

IT'S WORSE THAN IT LOOKS FOR THE UR:

How Racist Are We? Ask Google (SETH STEPHENS-DAVIDOWITZ, 6/09/12, NY Times)

Can we really quantify racial prejudice in different parts of the country based solely on how often certain words are used on Google? Not perfectly, but remarkably well. Google, aggregating information from billions of searches, has an uncanny ability to reveal meaningful social patterns. "God" is Googled more often in the Bible Belt, "Lakers" in Los Angeles.

The conditions under which people use Google -- online, most likely alone, not participating in an official survey -- are ideal for capturing what they are really thinking and feeling. [...]

The state with the highest racially charged search rate in the country was West Virginia. Other areas with high percentages included western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, upstate New York and southern Mississippi.

Once I figured out which parts of the country had the highest racially charged search rates, I could test whether Mr. Obama underperformed in these areas. I predicted how many votes Mr. Obama should have received based on how many votes John Kerry received in 2004 plus the average gain achieved by other 2008 Democratic Congressional candidates. The results were striking: The higher the racially charged search rate in an area, the worse Mr. Obama did.

Consider two media markets, Denver and Wheeling (which is a market evenly split between Ohio and West Virginia). Mr. Kerry received roughly 50 percent of the votes in both markets. Based on the large gains for Democrats in 2008, Mr. Obama should have received about 57 percent of votes in both Denver and Wheeling. Denver and Wheeling, though, exhibit different racial attitudes. Denver had the fourth lowest racially charged search rate in the country. Mr. Obama won 57 percent of the vote there, just as predicted. Wheeling had the seventh highest racially charged search rate in the country. Mr. Obama won less than 48 percent of the Wheeling vote.

Add up the totals throughout the country, and racial animus cost Mr. Obama three to five percentage points of the popular vote. In other words, racial prejudice gave John McCain the equivalent of a home-state advantage nationally.

Barring some decisive screw-up, like the House Republicans refusing to help bail out the credit system, there's no way the President can get to 49%.



Posted by at October 9, 2012 7:59 PM
  

blog comments powered by Disqus
« UNIONS EXIST TO BENEFIT THEIR MEMBERS, NOT THOSE THEY WORK FOR: | Main | MR. BAI SHOULD HAVE STOPPED WRITING RIGHT THERE: »