Percentage madness!

No one more that I thinks these allegations that Obama was born in Kenya — the birthers conspiracy — to be total nonsense. That said, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a greater abuse of the use of percentage values than in this recent LA Times article taking the birthers on.

The real reasons for Boehner’s unseemly bobbing and weaving are clear, though they do neither him nor similarly inclined members of the GOP hierarchy credit. A national poll conducted over the weekend and released Tuesday by PPP — a firm that usually works for Democratic candidates but enjoys a nonpartisan reputation for accuracy — found that 51% of likely Republican primary voters believe that Obama was born outside the United States. More than 80% of the likely voters with a favorable impression of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin do not believe the president is a citizen.

So what the hell is a “likely Republican primary voter” and what percentage of total Republicans are they? And what percentage of the same total are likely Republican primary voters “with a favorable impression of… Palin”? (I did a little nosing around on this: around 70% of Republicans (remember, likely Republican primary voters are a subset of this larger group) give her a favorable rating, though only 52% think she’s qualified to be president.)

To further complicate things, the percentage of Americans identifying themselves as Republican is currently at 35% (and the number fluctuates over time.) “Likely Republican primary voters” would obviously be a subset of this number (though, I believe some states allow independents to vote in the Republican primary.)

My point being that percentages are pointless unless they are tied to an actual number. 20% of 100 and 20% of 1 million are two completely different things.

Frankly, any percentage of Republicans or any group believing the theory that Obama was born in Kenya is too high, but I doubt the numbers are as high as the op-ed piece seems to imply.

1 Response to “Percentage madness!”


  1. John Saleeby

    Nobody believes that asshole was born in Kenya. They just like saying he was because it upsets Obama’s supporters. You know, the same way they pretend to think Jimmy Carter was a good President – They’re just fucking around.