What happened in Clark County?

by Daniel on November 4, 2004

Just tying up a few loose ends as the US election fervour comes to an end … I bet nobody else was planning to audit this one so I might as well …

After all the brouhaha and kerfuffle over the Guardian‘s Clark County Project, it turns out that the citizens of Clark County voted exactly the same way as the rest of Ohio: 51% Bush, 48.5% Kerry. You might possibly argue that there was a slight “anti-Guardian effect” because last time round Clark was slightly more Democratic than the rest of Ohio (50-46 for Gore when the state was Bush by half a percentag point), but if you did, I think I’d say you were data-mining.

Update I promise I wrote that sentence before I saw someone had done it.



chris waigl 11.04.04 at 8:37 pm

Well, hum, that’s all pretty inconclusive. The turnout is up quite significantly, and both Bush and Kerry gote more votes in absolute numbers than Bush/Gore did in 2000. Knowing nothing whatsoever about Clark County, you’d have to find out first who those additional voters are.

Not that I’m defending the G2 letter writing campaign, which was a bit too much tinged with selfimportance to come across as anything but patronizing.


dglp 11.04.04 at 8:40 pm

One comment and one question:

1. The hyperbole surrounding the Guardian scheme is taking on the status of an urban myth, despite simple logic such as the stats you show. It’s not hard to figure out who stands to gain by propagating the idea.

1. What is Crooked Timber? I came here via Google, and cannot see the smaller text in the photo banner. It’s way too dark for my screen. Nor do I see any ‘About Us’ links on the side. So, like, what IS this place?



Benedict Eastaugh 11.04.04 at 8:50 pm

Crooked Timber is a group blog posting about a wide variety political, economic and philosophical topics.

To be honest, I suspect certain parties just want to engage in tarring and feathering a newspaper that constantly challenges their policies. Personally I think the whole thing was pretty silly from start to finish, but no publicity is bad publicity and so on…


Benedict Eastaugh 11.04.04 at 8:53 pm

Sorry, that should be “a wide variety of…”; evidently my brain isn’t what it once was.


Sebastian Holsclaw 11.04.04 at 10:22 pm

So would a fair summary of the findings be: “It seems that the Guardian’s effort either had no effect, or a very mild negative effect on voting for Kerry.”?


dsquared 11.04.04 at 10:41 pm

Yep. And another fair summary is that they had a pretty massive effect on traffic and brand awareness for the Guardian’s online edition, for which this was a marketing stunt.


cdm 11.05.04 at 2:17 am

Giving credit where credit is due, an even earlier analysis was at Volokh, who conclude that Clark County “moved 3.9% towards the Republicans compared to the rest of the state”. I have to say that I’m not sure I agree with d^2 that focusing on Clark County alone is data-mining. Of course, any influence on the vote in Clark County would still only be a few thousand votes. In terms of the putative influence on the election, the real question, unanswerable from the data, is whether the publicity from the campaign shifted votes across the entire state.

I do completely agree that it was a marketing stunt, though.


Chris 11.05.04 at 2:42 am

Marketing stunt? Don’t be silly, it’s a moral posing stunt. A one-leader-writer idea that displayed a tiny degree of insensitivity and a huge surplus of self-righteousness in those who wrote.

I revere Richard Dawkins for ‘the blind watchmaker’ and I am shattered that he acted such a poonce.


rd 11.05.04 at 3:07 am

Little or no negative effect? Here’s what a writer at Slate.com had to say:

“The most significant stat here is how Clark County compares to the other 15 Ohio counties won by Gore in 2000. Kerry won every Gore county in Ohio except Clark. He even increased Gore’s winning margin in 12 of the 16. Nowhere among the Gore counties did more votes move from the blue to the red column than in Clark. The Guardian’s Katz was quoted as saying it would be “self-aggrandizing” to claim Operation Clark County affected the election. Don’t be so modest, Ian.”


Dubious 11.05.04 at 4:42 am

British Imperialism! This is why we need a 2nd Amendment, so Queen Elizabeth can’t lodge soldiers in our houses!


Andrew Brown 11.05.04 at 8:44 am

I can promise you, as someone who writes for the gdn, that it was not conceived as a marketing stunt for the online edition, which had nothing whatever to do with the idea.


cdm 11.05.04 at 9:46 am

Well, whether or not it was conceived as a marketing stunt, the Guardian editor(s) who signed off on it would have had to have been extraordinarily dim not to realize that there was a good chance that it would serve as such.


Chris Lightfoot 11.05.04 at 11:22 am

Marketing stunt? Hmm. I’d assumed that the Guardian had concluded (perhaps accurately) that a second Bush presidency will sell more newspapers than a Kerry presidency, and was acting accordingly.


dsquared 11.05.04 at 11:23 am

And I can promise you via very reliable channels indeed, that it was.


Extinct Tory 11.05.04 at 12:12 pm

Well, my friend Dan Martin lost his run for Clark County Commissioner, on the Republican ticket, by 1800 votes. Therefore the shift towards Bush was certainly not a universal Republican shift.

Andrew, why couldn’t you all have asked readers to include local election outcomes in their letters, too? Then he might have won. (Sorry, I am in fact ‘taking the piss.’)

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