Statistics are odd things. They can grab one’s attention; they can utterly fascinate, or they can make one’s eyes glaze over.
Election seasons are a great time for such examples – candidates, parties, and commentators all use statistics to make their points, but all too often, the important issues are lost in the shuffle of challenges or defenses to the statistics.
The modern welfare state presents such a problem. Consider the “rise of the Obamaphone” in recent years, as a three-decade-old policy of providing the most indigent with a subsidized landline has been translated by the current administration as a commitment to provide 12.5 million voters with the latest cellphones. Honestly, shouldn’t the recipients be offended that their party hopes their votes can be bought with a free phone?
First, the statistics: there were about 7.1 million federally-subsidized cellphones in 2008, and that number nearly doubled to 12.5 million during the Obama presidency. Politicians are sure that these statistics will affect the November elections, especially with the news that about a million of them are in Ohio, the battleground of all battlegrounds.