Not Good Enough, Politifact

Politifact has walked back their ruling on Marco Rubio’s “a majority of Americans are conservative” statement after Maddow debunked it using Politifact’s own facts.

PolitiFact has revised its piece from Feb. 14, which found U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s contention that “the majority of Americans are conservatives” to be “Mostly True.” It’s now “Half True.”

NO! It’s not even “half true.” It’s false by every measure. Not even a plurality of Americans are “conservative” according to Gallup. From Politifac’s write-up:

For 2011, Gallup found that the largest group of Americans identify as conservative, at 40 percent. Another 35 percent identify as moderate, while 21 percent identify as liberal. […]

In Gallup’s poll, the number of conservatives has never crossed the 50 percent threshold. So even though conservative is the No. 1 answer, it commands only a plurality, not a majority.

See that? 56 percent of Americans aren’t conservative. Not a majority or a plurality. So to suggest that a “majority of Americans are conservative” is FALSE. UNTRUE. Period.

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  • RickInSaltLake

    I had an ethics professor in college (yes, they do in fact exist, Mr Santorum) that insisted that “a half-truth is a whole lie.”

    If something is the truth, it is a truth in its entirety. If it is only partially truthful, then it is completely false.

    To further illustrate, he used this riddle:
    Q: Do you know what you get when you take nine gallons of ice cream and mix it with one gallon of horse manure?
    A: Ten gallons of horse manure.

    I’ve never forgotten that. And the Republican candidates are now giving us “ice cream” by the truckload! Bon appétit !

    • Brutlyhonest

      What’s truly scary to me is how they’ve marketed this shit/ice cream so effectively. Look at all these middle class people who vote republican against their own, and the Country’s, self interest.

      Here’s my impression of most of my neighbors’ take on debunking politifact (and all the rwnj lies in fact):

      You fucking elitist, college educated liberal snobs with your fancy book learnin’ always insisting on words meaning stuff.

    • stacib23

      If something is the truth, it is a truth in its entirety. If it is only partially truthful, then it is completely false.

      I have made this same argument hundreds of times, and cannot believe it’s even a debatable point. Just last week I was told by a poster on HuffPo that I see things as too black and white and the truth can be shaded with gray. HUH? If any part is a lie, then the entire thing is a lie.

  • http://twitter.com/SugaRazor Razor

    It amuses me that they look for nuance in things that right-wingers say, but not left-wingers.

    Take a look at the story about atheists on the front page. It’s patently “FALSE” on the Truth-O-Meter that there are more atheists than Jews, Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists combined and doubled, but when you read the story, that doesn’t take into account agnostics and people who aren’t affiliated with any religious group. According to Politifact, if you don’t go to church, don’t consider yourself religious and don’t know if there’s a god, you don’t get considered in that statement.

    However, if you merely say you’re conservative, even if you overwhelmingly support liberal causes (as many conservatives do), you’re the majority of the country. Even if it’s not a majority and you’re not really conservative.

    “Politifact, you are a disaster.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Thomas/1539152817 Gregory Thomas

    I don’t think Politifact knows what the word true means.

    • http://twitter.com/SugaRazor Razor

      They don’t know what the word “fact” means and it’s right in their name.

  • http://52novels.com/ Rob in Denver

    And I don’t think Bob knows what the word “plurality” means. In a tally of votes among two or more choices (say, “conservative,” “moderate” and “liberal”) the one that tallies the most votes, but not a majority, has a plurality.

    To say people self-identifying as conservative is not a plurality according to Gallup’s poll is to say that Bill Clinton did not twice win a plurality of the presidential popular vote. http://bit.ly/w9rBbS

    • muselet

      Marco Rubio did not say that a plurality of the American public was conservative, he said that a majority was conservative. That’s the claim Politifact was supposedly fact-checking, that’s the fact-checking Politifact screwed up, that’s why Politifact’s revision of its rating is a load of cobblers, and that’s why Politifact is a waste of bandwidth.

      –alopecia

      EDITED because of reading-comprehension problems. I stand by my assessment of Politifact as a waste of bandwidth, but I replied to a comment that had not actually been posted. Humble apologies to Rob in Denver.

    • mrbrink

      It’s really simple.

      Quote in question: “the majority of Americans are conservatives.”

      This is not true by any measure, unless you’re rewriting the public record of fact, altering quotations made by public officials, and moving the goal posts perpetuating one of the biggest scams in participation trophy history.

      Speaking of actual facts: A majority of Americans do not identify as “Conservative.”

      Conservatives are a minority. About 60/40 as a minority, according to the polling.

      The saying goes, “figures don’t lie, but liars do figure.”

    • Dan Phelan

      Well and fair that Rubio’s statement is false, but so is Bob’s. I think that’s what Rob was getting at here. So, this post could probably earn that same Politifact rating of “Half True,” quite literally. 40% > 35% > 21%, thus giving the “conservative” label a plurality.

      • mrbrink

        Non-conservatives are the plurality.

        • West_of_the_Cascades

          No. Conservatives are the plurality. Non-conservatives are the majority. Rubio’s statement is false, and Politifact is still wrong.

          “In North American English, the term plurality, used in the context of voting, refers to the largest number of votes to be received by any candidate or referendum. It is contrasted with a majority, which is more than half of the votes. For example, in a multiple contested race, plurality is the candidate with the most votes, while in a majority election a candidate can only win if they also receive over half of the votes.”

          • mrbrink

            There’s conservatives, and then there’s everyone else.

            Buy okay. If you want to run around telling people conservatives are the plurality in a two way race against the rest of the country that’s your business.

            Adding, if you really want to get technical about it,

            Gallup shows polling distinguishing: Very Conservative(11%), Conservative(30%), Moderate(36%), Liberal(15%), Very Liberal(6%), and out of these choices, Moderates are the plurality, not “Conservative.”

          • http://52novels.com/ Rob in Denver

            I wasn’t dealing with the technical. I was dealing with the way Bob framed his argument, that conservatives do not even constitute a plurality (as PolitiFact revised its documentation). In support, Bob cited the following measurements: conservatives (40 percent), moderates (35) and liberals (21). Given the information at hand, Bob’s assertion was clearly incorrect.

            What’s more is that Bob’s accounting — adding the two non-conservative numbers together — and then claiming that conservatives are outnumbered stretches intellectual honesty, because it’s equally valid to add up the non-liberal numbers. That, of course, looks pretty bad for liberals

            Don’t get me wrong, I agree that PolitiFact has stepped on its dick a lot lately and I’ve never really understood why they award partial credit or demerits between the midpoint and the extremes. It’s just that if Bob’s gonna be bold enough to say “it’s not even a plurality” then he should know what a plurality is.

            But getting back your technical point, are you seriously arguing that “very conservative” and “conservative” (or “liberal” and “very liberal,” for that matter) are different enough to distinguish themselves as unrelated? While it may make Bob technically right, albeit in a weaselly move-the-goalposts way, I remain unconvinced that counting the “very” groups as something distinct is a winning argument for him. After all, people who self-identify in the conservative camp still represent a plurality as defined.

          • http://52novels.com/ Rob in Denver

            Also, it’s not a two-way race between conservatives and everyone else, because that discounts people who self-identify as moderates. It’s wrong when conservatives claim moderates as their own. It’s wrong when liberals claim them as their own, too.

            These are people and when they assert themselves as middle of the road, then that has to be respected (as Gallup does).

          • mrbrink

            The narrowly focused polling methodology used by Politifact is just one variable to their bullshit extrapolations. We’re a little more nuanced than “Conservative,” “Moderate” and “Liberal,” Rob.

            When you turn down the bass, and bring up the treble, the polling becomes more concentrated, which is why I expanded it some, and you find that when you widdle away the extremist edges you find Moderates in the middle are the real plurality.

            And when you consider issue by issue that Americans are more left of center than “conservative” the lie that right wing American perpetrates about this being a right of center nation becomes myth.

          • http://52novels.com/ Rob in Denver

            mrbrink wrote: “The narrowly focused polling methodology used by Politifact is just one variable to their bullshit extrapolations. We’re a little more nuanced than “Conservative,” “Moderate” and “Liberal,” Rob.”

            I think that differences between Granny Smith apples and Golden Delicious apples are distinct in a number of ways. But, really, both are apples. Of course, it’s not just PolitiFact who cleaved the camps into three parts. Gallup did as well: http://bit.ly/zd0G93. It’s in the headline, lede and chart. Curious: is Gallup also guilty of bullshit extrapolations?

            mrbrink wrote: “And when you consider issue by issue that Americans are more left of center than “conservative” the lie that right wing American perpetrates about this being a right of center nation becomes myth.”

            Awesome. Another new location for the goal posts.