The Election Anomalies That Weren’t

Elections

Every time I’ve seen an eye-popping claim about election fishiness that’s supposed to make me think that Biden didn’t really win, a small amount of inquiry has debunked it. So it is again today.

Michael Anton writes in the latest Claremont Review of Books:

Then there are the statistical anomalies. For instance, political scientist Patrick Basham reports in the Spectator that “[i]n Georgia, Biden overtook Trump with 89 percent of the votes counted. For the next 53 batches of votes counted, Biden led Trump by the same exact 50.05 to 49.95 percent margin in every single batch.” What are the chances of that? And that’s only one example.

Saranac Hale Spencer wrote about Basham’s article on December 11 for FactCheck.org:

There was no anomaly.

The claim appears to be based on a post from the Gateway Pundit, a partisan website, which published data it characterized as “inconceivable” and indicative of “fraud.”

The data showed that, as the Spectator story says, Biden maintained a lead with 50.05% of the vote while Trump held 49.95% over the course of about an hour of ballot counting in Georgia.

But that’s to be expected, Charleen Adams, a research fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told FactCheck.org in an interview.

“What they’re calling an anomaly is statistically normal,” Adams said. She examined similar claims that misinterpreted the same type of data about other states.

In the Georgia example, the data — for which Gateway Pundit didn’t disclose the source — shows information for batches of ballots counted on the night of Nov. 6.

That’s three days after the election, when most of the counting was complete. With cumulative data like this, it’s normal to see small differences in the percent shares of votes between candidates at that late point in the process, Adams explained.

In contrast to the earlier days of counting — when there are relatively few votes included in the total and there can be wide fluctuations in the lead or deficit held by a certain candidate as new batches of ballots are counted — the later days show the cumulative, almost complete vote total when the margins between the candidates have tightened and each new batch of ballots has a shrinking impact on the total balance.

The Gateway Pundit data shows tallies from one of the later days, when 89% of Georgia’s ballots had been counted and each new batch of votes did little to shift the already established balance.

“So, there’s not an anomaly in the data,” Adams said. “They’ve misinterpreted cumulative data.”

“That’s only one example,” as Anton says. But it’s an example of something different from what he thinks.

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Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.


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