Much has been made about a certain figure – 47% and the supposed gaffe made by presidential candidate Mitt Romney. That number, however, has come into play a lot this political season. There’s the 47% of Americans that are excused from paying income taxes, the 47 million citizens collecting food stamps, the 47% that will only vote for Barack Obama, the 47% that will only vote for Mitt Romney, the 47% of the total population that won’t vote for anybody, and finally a political race that is tied at 47%. And all of it is within the pollster’s margin of error (an alibi of mitigation masquerading as a performance bell curve). It’s no wonder confusion reigns.
Author Greg Easterbrook nailed it when he said “torture numbers enough and they’ll confess to anything”. We are in the last 30 days of percentage, numbers, statistic,s and fact-checking hell!
The other night while waiting for a table at a local Outback Steakhouse, I surveyed the middle class crowd that strolled in after watching the 6:00 news on NBC or some other network channel. At least 60% of my fellow patrons were of Medicare age. No less than 50% of that 60% appeared to be 10-20% overweight as they enjoyed their deep fried Bloomin’ Onion. How many of them would vote for the guy who, according to his opponent, would decimate their Medicare safety net?
Having breakfast the next morning at a small local café, I was surrounded by Teamsters, AFL-CIO’ers, IBEW’ers, UAW’ers, SEIU’ers, USW’ers, etc. – you get the picture. Even sitting in a corner booth, I stood out in my Vans and powder blue Bermuda shorts among the Union Proud – logo emblazoned tee shirts and steel-toed boots. What percentage of them is likely to vote for the corporate executive suit who believes strongly in the free market and Open Shop labor?
Later that day, I received a sage tidbit of information from my 91-year old mother-in-law. It went something like this…”kids don’t like Governor Romney because he reminds them of their dad. President Obama is the cool guy”. If she is right (and she is never wrong because she claims a +/- 99% margin of error), then what percentage of those young hipsters are likely to vote for ‘dad’?
That evening, I was channel-surfing and stopped on the Bravo network, which is wedged in between MTV, VH1, Food Network, and in close proximity to the Cartoon Channel. I stopped for a second simply to get a dose of dysfunctionality that remarkably has the capacity to eclipse roughly 80% of their viewers. But then I had to think about 100% of those viewers and decide how many of them did their own due diligence of the presidential candidates instead of relying on Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart. I came up with 2% (with a +/-2% moe) that would opt for the button-down oxford cloth guy that can spit out facts and stats like an Uzi over the metro-sexual cool guy with a terrific smile who can sing like Al Green that makes middle-age ladies come emotionally unhinged.
Just before turning in, I wanted to catch the The David Letterman Show. I succumbed after only 47 seconds when David was between 4 and 5 of his nightly Top Ten List, realizing that Romney was probably right to assume he had no chance convincing 47% of the population to vote for him.
It appears the race is going to be a dead heat, of course with a margin of error of +/- 47%.
Read more of Scott’s columns at his blog, Basic Man.
Photo Credit: davelawrence8 (Creative Commons)
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