Friday, February 06, 2004

A round-up of some political notes ('cause from here on out, you'll be reading only more of these stories).

We'll start with margin because it's so often wrong. How many times do you see:
The amendment failed by a margin of 52 to 48.
By a margin of 40% to 60%, the measure was rejected.
Team X trails in the all-time series by a margin of 120-90.
By a margin of almost two to one, Dallas voters ...
They're all wrong.

The margin is the difference. If an amendment failed 52 to 48, the margin is four. Examples of the correct usage:
The Irish have won each home meet by a margin of 22 points or more.
Edwards captured the South Carolina primary by a margin of 15 points.
The incumbent won by a margin of 800,000 votes.
But what if you don't want to talk about the difference? Use ratio.
By a ratio of 10 to 1, voters passed the liquor ban.
Decliners narrowly beat gainers on the Nasdaq by a ratio of 17 to 15.
And never discount that you may need neither:
Dallas voters rejected the ban 2 to 1.
The amendment failed 52 to 48.
Team X trails in the series 120-90.


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