Monday, May 21, 2012

Wisconsin Campaign Coverage

There's a fine line between massaging the facts to your advantage and being downright disingenuous. Everyone does the former because it makes you look good. If you choose the latter, though, you'll alienate more voters than you draw in... at least if those voters are actually paying attention, like I was a few minutes ago.

One of the ads currently airing on Channel 12 Milwaukee just told me that under Governor Jim Doyle, unemployment in Wisconsin went up 37%, and unemployment in Milwaukee went up 28%. While not an actual lie, this is manifestly disingenuous. Unemployment didn't go up 37% in real terms under Doyle; assuming the underlying numbers are correct, it went up 37% from whatever it was pre-Doyle... like moving from 10% to 13.7%, not 10% to 47%. If unemployment in WI had hit that level, it would be a national catastrophe. The unannounced change in emphasis conceals the true meaning of the statistic (however meaningful it actually is; unemployment under Doyle was relatively static in his first five years before the 2008 recession began) and makes it just blatantly misleading.

I choose not to vote for candidates who fuck about in that fashion.

While I'm on that subject, let's tackle Scott Walker's claim that Wisconsin created over 23,000 jobs in 2011.

First: as Forbes pointed out, for the first 15 months of Scott Walker's governorship, he was content to use the same method of measuring job creation that saw him posting a loss of around 24,000 jobs in the past calendar year. Even the most ardent supporter of the Governor might balk at the timing of discounting conventional statistics that make him look bad... instead of his new statistics that make him look better... a few weeks before the election.

Second: Whether it's a net gain or a net loss over the past calendar year, 23,000 jobs is a relatively small number in a state with 205,000 out of work. I understand the symbolic importance of running as a job creator or attacking an opponent as a... job destroyer(?)... but either way, it's not an incredibly significant number. (Never mind the debate over the role of government in job creation; that's another thing entirely.)

Third: Any way you look at it, using whatever numbers, Walker is not on track to hit his target of 250,000 new jobs in Wisconsin by the end of his first term. Although this has very limited significance due to the timing of the recall election... since Walker will have been in office for about a year and a half on Election Day... it's still worth keeping in mind.

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