Comments: Other Headlines On A Thursday

Allstate: Yeah, try getting homeowners insurance from them if you live on a volcanic island.... for that matter, try getting insurance from any of the top five around here.

Posted by Jonathan Dresner at May 19, 2005 08:23 PM

As with most statistics, the devil is in the details. The chart leaves the casual observer the impression that those not confirmed were voted down either in committee or the full body (or more generally, all failed for the same reason). What would be more illuminating are the reasons (single hold; filibustered/never allowed out of committee; withdrawn; voted down, etc) as well as the majority party during the period. Of course, this more detailed view would require a little more work than the one reference (democratic senate during Bush 41). However, the piece's claim that Bush 43's record is "roughly on par" with Clinton is rather superficial, especially since the authors do not even bother to define what "worse" means. The authors appear to use only a "got on the bench/did not get on the bench" definition; however, the focus is really on how the unsuccessful nominees failed.

The authors use a baseball term, "batting average." In baseball, striking out or reaching base on an error both have the same effect on batting average; however, these events have different results on how one might judge the batter's plate appearance. A second chart focusing on the last 16 years with more details on the failed nominees would have been more useful to NYT readers and allowed for more insight into the merits of the arguments behind the current judicial nominee consent process.

Posted by Col Steve at May 23, 2005 10:53 PM


Sorry, it's been a while since I read a scorecard, but my recollection is that a base reached on error would not count as a failed at-bat in the same way that a strikeout would. It doesn't count for the batting average, but it doesn't count against, either.

Posted by Jonathan Dresner at May 25, 2005 02:36 PM


Batting average is hits/official at-bats. Official at bats are all plate appearances minus walks (BB), Hit by pitch, sacrifices/sac flys. For Batting average, fielders choice and reach by error still count as a failed "at bat" and thus as a plate appearance. So, I believe my example stands.

The difference though between RBE/FC and a strikeout is in on base percentage. FC and RBE would increase OBP while a K would decrease OBP.

Posted by Col Steve at June 1, 2005 01:04 AM