27%! And 1 in 8.88x 10^22 7×10^15.

So the running total on “faux undecided voters” at the YouTube Republican debate is now eight.

  • LeeAnn, our Union Rep with ties to John Edwards
  • Journey“, the abortion questioner, who “Can’t Stop Believin'” for John Edwards
  • David, the maybe-Log Cabin Republican, maybe-Paulbot, but certainly an Obama supporter
  • Ted, the farm subsid guy, who just happened to show up on Politico with SoandSo who is video pals with…
  • David McMillan, who asked about black voters (nice catch on that Jason)
  • Mark, the Paulbot who wanted a Ronulan Independent run, is actually in the tank for Bill Richardson. Mark obviously wants Paul to split Republican votes.
  • Adam, a former Dick Durbin (Senator, D-ILL) worker
  • “The Gay General”, Keith Kerr, who apparently still works the Clinton Gay Steering Committee.
  • And now, much to everyones non-surprise, there’s Yasmin, who’s a former CAIR intern.

So, there were 33 videos, and 9 of them come from Democratic activists, not “undecided voters”. That’s 27% of the selected videos coming from activists. CNN/YouTube had over 5000 videos to surf through, and they managed to pick 33 where over one-quarter were activists of various Democratic candidates!


So let’s have some fun with some numbers. Say 30% of the country is Democrats. And say 2% of that 30% are political activists. That means there are 1,680,000 political activists for the Democratic party in the US (that number sounds a bit high, but let’s play benefit of the doubt). So if you put them into the US population, essentially 6 out of every 1000 would be a political activist from the Democratic party.

So if you have a sample of, say, 5000 videos, then about 30, statistically speaking, would be from Democratic activists, if the stats for video submission mirror those of the public at large.

So the odds of picking 1 of those videos are approximately 1 in 167, if the sample is conducted at random and all 5000 videos present viable questions.

So what would be the odds of picking 9 videos from those 30 Democratic activists?

1 in 8.88 x 10^22. Or, for the scientific notationly challenged:

1 in 88,800,000,000,000,000,000,000.

The odds of being struck by lightning are 1 in 576000. So for this to randomly occur, it is like being struck just under 4 times in your life by lightning.

Now, it’s late and I’m tired, but I think that math is correct (feel free to correct me any math folks out there).

UPDATE: Yes, I’m tired. 8.88 x 10^22 was a little large, but I was too tired to reason out why. The Conductor pointed out my math was for all 9 to be picked in a row, not out of a random sample of 30. When you take that into consideration, the number drops to a paltry one in seven trillion, or 1 in 7,000,000,000,000,000 (that’s 1 in 7.0 x 10^15). So I was off by a factor of 7. I apologize to CNN and say that the corrections make the probability much more likely (than my original guess)!


12 Responses to “27%! And 1 in 8.88x 10^22 7×10^15.”

  1. 1 William
    November 29, 2007 at 11:42 pm

    If they can’t take on Democrats, how can we expect them to take on al Qaeda?

  2. November 29, 2007 at 11:48 pm

    Okay, what were the 3 I missed? I had 30, though I admit I was drunkblogging and trying to hang on at the HotAir Live event.

  3. 3 docattheautopsy
    November 30, 2007 at 12:10 am


    According to the YouTube Debate Site, there were 34 questions asked, but I tossed the 1st one as it was just a song.


    Are you suggesting the Democrats are terrorists? Or are you suggesting that CNN can’t handle the Democrats?

  4. November 30, 2007 at 7:39 am

    Guess I’m going to have to back to the tape and recount (it’s somewhere in my feed reader).

    It wouldn’t suprise me if YouTube’s lying; after all, they promised 40.

  5. November 30, 2007 at 7:42 am

    Found it as-aired, thanks to the backup blogger TiVo called Stan at Free Constitution. Now to start counting.

  6. 6 The Conductor
    November 30, 2007 at 11:48 am

    I get a smaller version of a huge number. The chance of randomly picking a Democratic activist out of the population 9 times *in a row* is 167^-9 = 10^-20. But there are many different ways 9 videos can appear in a collection of 30 (neglecting the order they appear), so you have to shorten the odds by the permutations “30 P 9” , a factor of about 5×10^12. The resulting odds areabout one in twenty million, longer than winning any state lottery I know of, but shorter than the multi-state Powerball.

    If you assume smaller numbers of Dem activists, then the odds really lengthen out. If activists are only half as likely, then the odds are 2^9 times as long: one in ten billion.

  7. 7 The Conductor
    November 30, 2007 at 11:55 am

    Oops, you should shorten the odds by “30 choose 9″=14 million, not permutations, because the 10^-20 already assumes a random order. That makes the odds one in 7 trillion.

  8. 8 docattheautopsy
    November 30, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    Aha. I knew that my number looked unwieldy. Thanks for the assist!

  9. 9 Stats Entertainment
    November 30, 2007 at 3:57 pm

    Should we expect the pool of videos submitted to mirror the voting population at large? Surely democratic activists who went to the trouble to post a question would be over represented in the sample when compared with politically unaligned inactivists.

    Rather than being chastised for not being “reflective of the community” (let’s not call for quotas) CNNs choices should be shamed on the merits — many of these questions were just plain stupid.

  10. 10 Bobak
    December 1, 2007 at 12:51 am

    Waaaaa! Why don’t they have the debates on some more “fair and balanced” like Faux “news”…is half this website whining or what?

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My name is Doc. Welcome to my blog. If you're visiting from another blog, add me to your blogroll (and I'll happily reciprocate). I have a Ph.D. in Chemistry and live in Wisconsin. If you have any questions, feel free to email me. My email is docattheautopsy at gmail. (No linking to deflate the incredible spam monsters).



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