Breaking the status quo

Lies, damn lies, and hardliner statistics

November 12th, 2012 | Posted by Alex in Cuba policy | Hard-line hijinks | US Politics

If the biggest loser of the election (besides Romney) is Karl Rove, pro-embargo lobbyist Mauricio Claver-Clarone is a close second. After all, he has to justify to his donors how come Cubans not only voted in record numbers for Obama, but also elected Joe Garcia, whose election he wanted to avoid so badly, he paid for and ran a desperate negative ad against Garcia that never once mentioned Cuba.

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First he tried smearing the pollster. Then he tried fudging the numbers with crappy math. Since none of that was sticking –the fact that Cubans turned away from the GOP is now accepted far and wide– he has now decided to commission his own study.

And what a box of laughs this new study is. Its basis is an obscure statistical trick called “ecological regression” (no, that doesn’t mean what happens to a normal mind when trying to make sense out of hardliners’ arguments, though it sometimes feels that way). It’s pretty nerdy stuff, but what’s relevant here is that it’s an inference, a projection, subject to bias and unreliability. They are looking at precinct and absentee ballot results and (since the ballots aren’t marked “Cuban” and there are no 100% Cuban precincts anywhere) making assumptions on a limited number of precincts in hand-picked areas. As opposed to actually asking more than 2,000 living and breathing Cuban Americans statewide, right after they cast their vote, who they voted for, which is what an exit poll does.

Another good laugh is how the hardliners are now pinning this loss on Paul Ryan. First of all, nobody knew before his nomination that Paul Ryan had voted against the embargo. That was only known to a small group of local political junkies, not to the Miami electorate in general.

But what’s most laughable is that if we believe their conclusion that Ryan is what caused the erosion of the Cuban vote, then that means that, by their own admission, the Diaz-Balarts, Ileana Ros, Mauricio himself, and every other hardliner who sipped cafecitos with Ryan at Versailles and endorsed and vouched for his “rehabilitated” position on Cuba, had significantly less influence on the Cuban vote than the Obama campaign, which barely brought up Ryan’s prior-opposition to the embargo anyway.

If I were in the business of advising hardliners, I would tell them to stop fudging numbers and start figuring out how to insert themselves in the new Cuba policy dynamic. Because they are losing credibility fast, and if they can’t deliver votes anymore, the GOP is going to throw them under the bus faster than they did to Ryan.

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