Essay on New York Times Article Statistics

Submitted By bk11233
Words: 582
Pages: 3

New York Times Article Abstract

Article #1 - “ In Supreme Court Debate on Voting Rights Act, a Dubious Use of Statistics” The article that I read talked about Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. introducing a statistical claim that he took to imply that an important provision of the Voting Rights Act has become outdated. He talked about Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which is being challenged by Shelby County, Ala., in the case before the court, requiring that certain states, counties and townships with a history of racial discrimination to get approval from the Department of Justice before making changes to their voting laws. Chief Justice Roberts’s statistics came from data collected back in 2004 by the Census Bureau, which polls Americans about their voting behavior as part of its Current Population Survey. In 2004, according to the Census Bureau’s survey, the turnout rate among white voting-aged citizens was 60.2 percent in Mississippi, while the turnout rate among African-Americans was higher, 66.8 percent. The article stated “Like other polls, the Current Population Survey is subject to sampling error, a result of collecting data among a random subsample of the population rather than everyone in the state. In states like Massachusetts that have low African-American populations, the margin of error can be especially high: it was plus-or-minus 9.6 percentage points in estimating the black turnout rate in 2004, according to the Census Bureau.” It talked about that in a poll of 1,000 people, a candidate who is ahead 52-48 has a 90 percent chance of holding the lead (assuming that there are no other sources of uncertainty apart from sampling error). A candidate who is up 53-47 has a 97 percent chance of holding the lead. If one applies the conventional definition of the margin of error, which usually refers to a 95 percent confidence interval, then the second candidate’s lead would be described as being outside the margin of error while the first candidate’s would be within it. I relate this article to Chapter 9 where it talks about hypothesis testing because Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has drawn data in which he used to support his claim and decide whether to reject or not reject the null hypothesis.

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