Thursday, November 04, 2004

Operation Clark County - Lessons Learned Briefing

So, what effect did the Guardian's Operation Clark County, its effort to swing the key district in the key state to John Kerry by getting readers to write to undecided voters, really have? According to Ian Katz's article on the 21st of October, 14,000 voters had been contacted by the time a distributed denial-of-service attack took out the project's website and forced an early termination of the effort. Here, we have the figures on how Ohio really voted. Well, at least in so far as the votes were accurately counted.
President/Vice President of the United States

George W. Bush/Dick Cheney, Republican
2,796,147 votes 51.01%
John F. Kerry/John Edwards, Democratic
2,659,664 votes 48.52%
Michael Badnarik/Richard V. Campagna, Other
14,331 votes 0.26%
Michael Anthony Peroutka/Chuck Baldwin, Other
11,614 votes 0.21%
David Keith Cobb/Patricia LaMarche, Green (Write-In)
24 votes 0.00%
Joe Schriner/Barbara A. Marlinski (Write-In)
14 votes 0.00%
Thomas F. Zych/Paula Marie Concepcion Zych Fullerton (Write-In)
5 votes 0.00%
Richard A. Duncan/Robert C. Culbertson (Write-in)
5 votes 0.00%
John Thompson Parker/Teresa Gutierrez (Write-In)
0 votes 0.00%
James Harris/Margaret Trowe (Write-In)
0 votes 0.00%

Right, so that's a margin of 136,483 for Bush. In fact, the Guardian's intervention was worth less than that of the Badnarik campaign. Even if we make some fairly heroic assumptions - say, that each recipient told 3 other voters and all of them were switched Republican - that would suggest a maximum Grauniad factor of 56,000.
But what about Clark itself? Well, the Bush margin in Clark was some 1,620 votes, well within the possible Guardian margin. Now Ohio broke 51% - 48% for Bush, identical figures to those for the US as a whole, so it's fair to say the paper can't be blamed on that score. But Clark was even closer, 51-49. That puts Kerry marginally higher in the Gaurdina target area.

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