Exposing Jeff Stein at Vox’s Bias

I’ve taken a long hiatus since Exposing 538’s Bias in August 2015. If you’ve been following along, though, you’ve certainly noticed the bias against Bernie Sanders is still ripe throughout the media.

Today we’ll talk about Jeff Stein at Vox and his new feature, “Reality check: Bernie Sanders has lost the race for the Democratic nomination.”

Jeff starts his article by correctly asserting, “Because of the Democrats’ proportional allocation rules, [Bernie will] need to win every state by 65 percent or more to overcome that deficit.”

This is true. To make up his deficit, Bernie will need to win a significant portion of the pledged delegates in remaining states.

But then Jeff makes a turn for the worse as he presents this shockingly biased paragraph:

To put the odds in perspective: Sanders’s fans celebrated after he crushed Hillary Clinton in West Virginia last week. It seemed like a hopeful moment for Sanders’s campaign — until you realize that he only beat Clinton there by a 51 to 36 margin, or by far less than what he needs to win by to cut into her delegate advantage. (Clinton won 11 delegates from West Virginia to Sanders’s 18.)

See what he did there? Jeff has presented an argument that basically says, “51% isn’t even close to 65%…Bernie has no shot!”

As it turns out, that’s not really how the math works. A discerning reading may notice that the final tally was NOT 51% to 49%, but instead 51% to 36%. But that doesn’t add up to 100%, so what about the rest?

It turns out that the people of West Virginia didn’t just vote on Bernie or Hillary. Some 13% of votes went to other candidates who did not receive enough votes to be considered “viable.” Because of their small support base, those candidates were not awarded any delegates from West Virginia, and they were instead split between Bernie and Hilllary.

Now, Jeff recognized this as he wrote his article, but he downplayed it with a literary technique called the “parenthetical statement.” For the uninitiated…that mean’s he put it in parentheses. Let’s go ahead and read that statement again, with a little more attention called to it:

(Clinton won 11 delegates from West Virginia to Sanders’s 18.)

Alright, now let’s do some math. 11+18=29 total delegates.

Sanders won 18/29 = 62%. Clinton won 11/29 = 38%.

Indeed, Jeff misled you to believe that Bernie missed his goal by 14 points, when it was really just 3 points. He used raw totals instead of adjusted totals and feigned ignorance to justify his bias.

Bottom line: needing to “win every state by 65 percent” does NOT mean you need 65% of the vote, it means you need 65% of the delegates. Jeff knows this, I know this, and now you know this. But unfortunately, bias like this is rampant amongst even the most trusted media sources many people may take it at face value. Please help me expose and eliminate the bias by sharing this article and calling out @JStein_Vox on Twitter.

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