I just found This We Know linked on Gapers Block today. Easy and fast data is so easy and fast anymore. It’s nice, but there’s still all that work of figuring out what it means.
Here are some visualizations I made using their data for the employment stats in my hometown, Rockford, Ill. This is probably not enough information to come to any sort of conclusion, but it’s interesting enough to probably warrant some digging around at some point.
Unemployment Count, Jan.-June
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The Chicago Reporter recently did an analysis of where county workers live that’s been rolling around in my head since it was published.
The article’s analysis leads to the less-than-startling realization that, in one of the most segregated cities in America, white middle-class people live in white middle-class neighborhoods.
According to the Reporter, county workers live mostly in the 18th, 19th, 21st, and 23rd wards. If you’re not familiar with Chicago’s patchwork of wards, that’s the area of largely white, middle-class neighborhoods just outside of Oak Lawn on the far Southwest Side of the city — the Bungalow Belt.
Here’s the hook:
Patronage is likely to be, at least, part of the reason for the inflated number of county workers in those wards since they were also among the wards with the highest rates of referrals on the infamous “clout list” that was maintained by Richard M. Daley’s Intergovernmental Affairs Office during the first several years of the Daley administration.
This is a post hoc argument.
- If A occurred, then B occurred.
- Therefore, A caused B.
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The papers have been running a lot of number stories in the wake the primary election.
The Chicago Reporter’s analysis caught my attention because it was so dour. The story says that “voter turnout in this year’s primary was the lowest in at least 50 years in Illinois. … [J]ust 23.1 percent of registered voters statewide cast ballots.” Really? How could that be true? I voted.
Campaign organizers all told me they were pretty happy with the turnout on election day because it had remained relatively stable in Chicago. And if you break it down, they’re right. There’s an apples to oranges comparison going on here.
There was a spike in registered voters in Illinois for the last presidential election. Anyone want to guess why? So you can’t go by what percent of registered voters turned out. So where’s the other apple? How about the actual number of ballots cast compared to the last midterm primary election.
Cook County ballots dropped by 647 compared to the 2006 midterm primary election, that’s a decline of .08 percent. But the Reporter’s not talking about Cook alone, it’s talking about the whole state. So I ran the whole state to see if it is in fact down since the last midterm.
Percent change in number of ballots cast by county in Illinois midterm primaries 2006-2010
It’s not down by much on average, just 2.5 percent. But look at the variation county to county. There’s a standard deviation of close to 30 percent — using an average isn’t telling you much of anything. The safer conclusion to draw is that local races and local issues drove turnout. Maybe it’s true that turnout has been on the decline for the last 50 years, but it seems like an unfair conclusion to speculate that 2010 was a bell weather year.