Wednesday, September 05, 2018

I Like Numbers with my Election News


In yesterday's Democratic congressional primary for Massachusetts US House District, "progressive" Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley defeated 10-term incumbed Michael Capuano.

I've now read five accounts of the outcome at fairly major news sites: Yahoo! News, the Boston Globe, Fox News, the New York Times, and The Daily Beast.

The first paragraph of the Daily Beast account informs me that "it wasn't even close." And then goes on for another thousand words without telling me how not-close it was.

The New York Times story notes that Capuano conceded with "barely 13 percent of the votes counted," but offers no clue as to how many votes were cast or what the final result was, other than that Pressley won.

Fox reports that Pressley had a lead of 10,682 votes with 69 percent of precincts reporting. Out of how many votes cast?  What relative percentages does that number reflect? Nary a word.

The Boston Globe piece is an editorial that refers to a "resounding victory" and links to a paywalled article that may or may not have actual numbers. I guess they get half a pass here since they're discussing something they've apparently already reported elsewhere.

No numbers at all in the Yahoo piece.

It seems to me that vote percentages -- even if only incomplete ones because not all precincts have reported -- are the third basic and essential element in a news story about how an election came out (the first two being what office the election was for and who the candidates were).

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