C. Ray Math



In this morning’s T-P, Frank Donze writes about Mayor Ray Nagin’s displeasure with the recent UNO poll results. The poll showed hizzoner with just 31 percent “favorable” ratings among New Orleans voters. No surprise there, except to the mayor.


Nagin is understandably upset with those results, down from an almost-as-dismal 40 percent favorable rating in the fall of 2006, just six months after his re-election — and he has a legitimate point when he notes the survey’s 9.4 percent margin of error in Orleans Parish.


The survey of voters in Orleans and Jefferson parishes sampled only 109 registered voters in New Orleans, out of a total sample of 300. The relatively small number of interviews in New Orleans causes the high margin of error. In fact, the overall survey sample size of 300 is smaller than we normally see in metro-wide surveys; the overall margin of error is 5.7 percent. No serious candidate would pay for a poll with a margin of error that big.


My point here is that Nagin had plenty of ammunition to criticize the survey results, if he wanted to do so rationally. Ah, there’s the rub.


In a recent appearance on WVUE-TV, Nagin, who is trained as an accountant, makes a statement that’s even more ridiculous than a poll with a 9.4-percent margin of error. According to Donze, Nagin said that if just one survey respondent had given a different answer in the UNO poll, that could have “skewed those numbers 10, 15, 20 points.”




One out of 109 translates to roughly 9/10 of 1 percent, or 0.9 percent. If one voter who had rated Nagin negatively had rated him positively instead, it might have amounted to a net 2-point swing. Maybe. Even my old Ninth Ward math works that well. Heck, my friend Paul Preston, who invented a concept called Gentilly Math (for which he is yet to be recognized by the Nobel Committee) can figure that out.


It’s kinda scary that Nagin, who gets plaudits for keeping the city out of bankruptcy post-Katrina, makes statements like that. Then again, it’s not exactly out of character.


The madness continues, but only for another 21.6 months. Hang in there, New Orleans.

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