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Cute but flawed API: What your name says about your politics

Published in the Wall Street Journal, designed by Clarity Campaigns, but not by someone statistically savvy.

The API idea:

What’s in a name? In an era of microtargeting, slicing and dicing lists of voters and their political habits, the answer might be: More than we think. At least that’s what the Democratic modeling and analytic firm Clarity Campaign Labs has found. The company used data from party voter files across the country to check out how first names correlate with voting habits, and they came up with a fantastic — and fantastically addictive — tool to play with.

Take, oh I don’t know, Reid. Not a terribly common first name — there are only 12,602 registered voters named Reid around the nation. Clarity found 54.7 percent of them are registered Republicans, while 45.3 percent are registered Democrats. Almost 60 percent of us have a college degree, and 47.3 percent have a gun in their home.

You know you want to check your own name. Do it here.

My Criticism:

  • All popular names that I checked (Amy, Jennifer) have pretty much a 50-50% distribution (democrats vs. republicans)
  • Only people who voted are in the sample. This creates a big bias as non-voters are different from voters, from a political affiliation point of view
  • Non-US names suc as Jesus (Hispanic) or Jean-Marc (French) have a non even distribution. Wondering if female or old first names have a special distribution.
  • Looks like democrats + republicans = 100%, as if everyone is either democrat or republican (or both, as in my case).

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