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Chart appearing in story alleging GOP success at the local California level.
From LA Times, 9/3/2013
Remember when Republicans discovered that “unskewing” the mainstream polls put Mitt Romney far ahead? The Republican War on Statistics is back, and the Los Angeles Times fell for it, hook, line, and sinker. In a story published September 3, the Times reported the analysis of a political media firm showing Republicans hold about half of the mayor and city council seats in California. The story speculates that the state GOP might rebound by working up from the grass roots and downplaying the social issue baggage of the national party. A chart of so-called GOP Success accompanies the article (see right).

Challenge to the reader: Can you spot the error in the chart? [Hint] [Answer below the fold]

The Times’ chart ignores the size of the cities. The Republican mayor of Oakley, California (population 35,432)—who is featured in the article—counts the same as the Democratic mayor of Los Angeles (population 3,857,799). Four of Oakley’s five city council members are Republican; fourteen of Los Angeles’ fifteen council members are Democrats, and each one represents over seven entire Oakleys.

Democrats elected only a bare majority, twenty-six, of mayors of the fifty largest cities in California, but these include the largest four and eight of the top eleven. The largest cities with Republican mayors are Fresno (fifth) and Anaheim (tenth). The Democrats’ 26 cities hold 11.4 million people; the Republican/Non-Partisan 24 hold 4.7 million. Compare the original chart with one that reflects who is getting the votes, not just a reserved parking space.

Population-weighted CA mayors by party
The corrected chart illustrates why the Democrats hold every statewide office, 38 of 53 seats in the House of Representatives, and are about to regain their supermajority in both houses of the Legislature after current vacancies are filled by special election.
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