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Ron Paul deserves a proper graph

September 9, 2011

I like Ron Paul. I also like proper display of data. So I just couldn’t resist this one.

It looks like the mainstream media in America really don’t like Ron Paul, they don’t even like mentioning him when he gets high public ratings in debates. Not too long ago he came second in the poll taken after the Republican debate in Iowa and hardly got mentioned as a possible front runner at all.

A couple of days ago we had another Republican debate with Ron Paul performing strongly again, so strongly in fact that on NBC’s poll a whopping 57% of the public had said that Paul was the winner, not too shabby eh? Below is the poll they display on their site to show this crushing majority.

Oh, but wait a second, something is wrong here… can’t quite put my thumb on it… perhaps the proporations look a little off? Last time I checked 57% was more than twice that of 14%. We better go in for closer inspection.

Let’s take a closer look at the top three candidates, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry

Below is how NBC would like you to see the results.

And below in blue we have the real proportionality between these results, no bar-stretching involved.
When you see what the results actually look like it makes you realise the extent to which NBC are deciding to inflate the poor vote counts of both Romney and Perry.

Finally, below we can see the True and exaggerated results overlaid.

So the media now have a new way to ignore Ron Paul’s success, graphically.

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61 Comments leave one →
  1. September 9, 2011 4:46 pm

    It was a programming error on the website, not MSNBC’s protrayal of it.

    • September 10, 2011 5:44 pm

      how do you goof up a bar graph? Have MSNBC programmers graduated high school?

    • E Smith permalink
      September 10, 2011 8:30 pm

      Is THAT their “official” excuse?

    • BambiB permalink
      September 11, 2011 2:19 pm

      Unlikely. Only one bar was out of proportion to the rest (guess which one?). It was half the length it should have been. In addition, there was mention of the “error” in the comments on the site (a “thank you for pointing this out”) – but the problem wasn’t fixed.

      Generating these kinds of bar graphs is pretty simple. You use a package and you feed the data and out pops the graphic. I’d like a full explanation of how they “accidentally” divided just Ron Paul’s results by 2 – and none of the others. As someone with 30 years experience in programming, I say, an “accident” of this type is highly unlikely.

    • September 11, 2011 3:18 pm

      Ok, whatever. Funny how often this happens to Paul, eh? This is no accident. This is pure terror in the hearts of the establishment that Ron Paul is the real frontrunner. Media BS be damned.

  2. mark permalink
    September 9, 2011 4:57 pm

    I don’t understand the point of a graph (accurate visual representation of data) that is inaccurate. Typical entertainment news.

  3. Ben Lauer permalink
    September 9, 2011 6:12 pm

    Thank you!

    RP 2012

  4. September 9, 2011 6:53 pm

    Thank you for posting this.
    I completely agree with you.

  5. September 9, 2011 6:59 pm

    edfk- you deserve a high five for this. thank you.

  6. September 9, 2011 8:05 pm

    Pile on the evidence! They can’t hide the truth.

    Keep up the good work 🙂

  7. September 9, 2011 8:31 pm

    Considering how much more of a following Ron Paul has on the internet, I doubt the accuracy of the poll would have been reliable anyway. A real survey would be much more telling.

    Still…yeah. That’s some laughable number-stretching.

    • mrpom permalink
      September 12, 2011 11:53 am

      I am growing a little tired of the mentioning of Dr. Paul’s following on the internet. Everyone has a chance to generate votes. Dr. Paul actually have people that care enough to vote. The other candidates with their corporate donations don’t. Actual supporters are showing up at these polls.

  8. September 9, 2011 8:31 pm

    Cutting thru the bullshit:

  9. September 9, 2011 9:15 pm


  10. Mormon Nailer permalink
    September 9, 2011 9:25 pm

    Are you proposing we allow the federal government tell us what is proportional to what? The public are perfectly able to chose between news organisations who understand proportionality and those who don’t If Mr. Paul has a problem with this then the correct re-mediation is via tort. Let the market sort this out.


  11. September 9, 2011 9:53 pm

    Nice article. Thanks for putting some of your math skills to work.

  12. adam croce permalink
    September 9, 2011 9:55 pm


  13. Dmpro permalink
    September 9, 2011 9:55 pm

    They’re not exaggerating the results, they’re just not starting at 0%…

  14. September 9, 2011 10:14 pm

    Graphs and charts are the easiest way to lie with statistics. Years ago, Time Magazine got somewhat notorious for making tiny differences look huge by truncating the bottom part of a bar chart. But that was only misleading. This is outright lying.

    Ron Paul’s problem is that he’s a straight shooter and a \truth-teller. Jesse Ventura has the same problem, and I’d vote for either of them over the loose cannons who make the corporate-funded Tea Party types cheer in their dull-eyed way. A truth-telling onetime SEAL and a non-corporate Republican with actual principles – what a ticket they’d make.

  15. September 9, 2011 11:07 pm

    Ever heard of logarithmic axes?

    • September 10, 2011 6:02 pm

      If you look at the bars of all the other candidates you can clearly see that logarithmic scales are not being used.

  16. September 9, 2011 11:24 pm

    Actually, it would be best represented as a pie chart, which would REALLY show Ron Paul overwhelming the other results.

    • September 10, 2011 6:08 pm

      They goofed up a bar graph. What makes you think they are capable of making an accurate pie chart? Unfortunately all these graphs and charts wont make much of a difference because the media fails to report on them. Thank God we at least have Drudge on our side.

  17. September 9, 2011 11:39 pm

    Might want to correct a typo in the blue graph (slide 4). It reads “What is should look like.” I presume it should be “What it should look like”.

  18. ashantiqua permalink
    September 10, 2011 12:11 am


    good job.

  19. Bob Smit permalink
    September 10, 2011 12:17 am

    If you plot the votes on a logarithmic scale, starting at 4%, then the bars are plotted with relative magnitudes. Of course, they did not show the log scales! Who would know, or were they even that smart? But that is effectively what they did. Pretty clever, or pretty stupid.

    • September 10, 2011 10:25 am

      I don’t think they were using a log scale… and if they were… they would really want to state that

    • September 10, 2011 5:56 pm

      They sure didn’t use log scales. If you look at the bars and percentages of all the other candidates it appears that no special scales were used. For example, Huntsman’s bar (6.1%) is about half of Perry’s bar (12.3%) and Cain’s bar (3%) is about half of Huntsman’s bar.

  20. September 10, 2011 12:54 am

    I don’t think it was malicious… I think they just suck at math. The graph is drawn in HTML, by using width percentages (this is how you can easily make a bar graph with HTML). They didn’t want a bar graph that showed Ron Paul’s only taking up 57% of the width of the graph, so they decided to have the top person take up 100% width, and the others shown behind that. They believed they could do this by calculating the percent of Ron Paul’s percentage that each competitor made up. I.e. with the current numbers:

    Ron Paul: 58.2% Actual, Width: 100%
    Mitt Romney: 14.2% Actual, Width: 24% (14.2/58.2 = .2439 or 24.39%)
    Rick Perry: 12% Actual, Width: 21% (12/58.2 = .2061 or 20.61%)

    When the percentages are rounded to the nearest whole number, these make sense.

    Unfortunately their math does not.

    • September 10, 2011 6:26 pm

      But still your explanation doesn’t agree with the graph. Romney’s bar clearly doesn’t take up ~24% of the full width. If Ron Paul takes the full width (100%) it appears Romney has around 50%. I don’t mean to drag this issue on, I think the important thing is that they give the percentages. I believe most people look to percentages anyways.

  21. jplcharron permalink
    September 10, 2011 1:34 am

    But what does NBC get out of ignoring Ron Paul? I can understand Fox News ignoring and trying to undermine him (read: Sean Hannity) because he is a Libertarian stealing GOP votes. But NBC? I somehow doubt that it’s a deliberate misrepresentation. At least I hope it isn’t, for NBC’s sake. It’s so obvious.

    Anyway, these polls don’t mean much of anything. Paul’s followers are devout and hit online polls like wildfire. He has won many of these online polls in the past. But he is, at best, a dark horse in the GOP race.

    • Chris permalink
      September 10, 2011 5:57 pm

      NBC has much to gain! You see the biased media stations on both side help choose who will be the front runners for an election. They feel Ron Paul is a threat because he might win over the democrats. They are going to put all their focus on the republican candidate they think will lose to their candidate.

    • Liberty Belle permalink
      September 11, 2011 12:31 pm

      It does matter. On liners are actual people. In 2008 we had a devout meet up group of over 300 Ron Paulers. We had worked hard to educate our community about Paul. By Primary day there were Ron Paul signs on EVERY street corner and at every voting place. You had to search to find one McCain supporter. But, there was a total media blackout of Ron Paul starting about two months before the primary. On primary day I went around talking with groups of voters. The common question that day was “Is Ron Paul running?” We had gone from “Who is Ron Paul?” to the sheeple believing he wasn’t even in the race! Nip it in the bud, don’t let it happen again.

  22. nader paul kucinich gravel mckinney baldwin ventura sheehan permalink
    September 10, 2011 2:03 am

    you should have seen their early graphs
    they were even worse
    deceptively depicting a near tie

    electrical engineers thank you

  23. September 10, 2011 2:17 am

    Nice! Good catch there buddy. You just scaled up the graph they had to make it larger for us to see?

  24. onesquarelight permalink
    September 10, 2011 3:14 am

    Pathetic. Thanks for setting the record straight.

  25. Human Cannonball permalink
    September 10, 2011 4:15 am

    So where’s the methodology on that poll? What’s the sample group look like? What’s the margin of error?

    Or is it not a scientifically conducted poll? If that’s case, why complain about a poll that can be easily manipulated?

    • September 10, 2011 10:22 am

      Well, while those things are relevant questions to ask, it doesn’t change the fact they are showing misleading graphics.

  26. September 10, 2011 5:01 am

    Thanks for the post, good work. You’ll want to fix the title for the second graph to “what it should look like.” Cheers.

  27. Cheeses of Nazerath permalink
    September 10, 2011 5:49 am

    You will note that bar graphs are often printed this way, with the thought that people will not read the scale. In a non technical population it is a great way to mislead the populace. Of course with the consolidation of media outlets int mega corporations that have other interests than reporting news, it is hard to believe any one of them can be fair and balanced anymore when they have shareholders as opposed to the public’s best interest at heart. That being said, depending on the data and the audience this style of truncating the graph can actually be a better way to present the data. Unfortunately the data and the audience in this situation certainly do not meet that criteria.

  28. September 10, 2011 6:04 am

    thanks for taking time to point this deliberate manipulation of the facts out.
    Ron Paul is our only choice in 2012

  29. September 10, 2011 6:10 am

    fuck ron paul

  30. Fucking Nigger permalink
    September 10, 2011 6:40 am

    Holy shit, you totally fucking just won the internets.

    Fucking paulbots. Go off yourself.

  31. Kenneth Biegel permalink
    September 10, 2011 9:21 am

    I’m glad that you did this. I was about ready to do it myself. Thanks for spreading truth.

  32. September 10, 2011 5:36 pm

    The last graph, I think would be better if you scaled it to the median, Romney’s result. Romney would be 1:1, and it would more convincingly show the discrepancy for Perry and Paul.

  33. Eric Hsiao permalink
    September 10, 2011 6:21 pm

    I already like Ron Paul, but I’m getting more and more motivated to vote for him simply to piss off the mainstream media.

  34. September 10, 2011 7:59 pm

    Here is the truth.

  35. Ryan D permalink
    September 10, 2011 11:36 pm

    @ Levi Ritchie : A good point with regards to how much of Paul’s support is active online, however I would caution against saying that a “real poll” would be more telling. I say this because it seems to imply (in my mind at least), that when you say a “real poll” you are referring to something like Rassmusen. The problem with identifying these polls as “real” in any way, is that they error to the same effect as measuring Paul’s support solely online. Consider this:
    1. Phone polls conducted by these “real” polling companies, only conduct them via land lines.
    2. Demographically speaking, virtually nobody under the age of 35 has a land line anymore.
    3. A rather enormous portion of Paul’s support, comes from people 18-35.

    There are various ways to assess these polls and account for disparities seemingly unnoticed by those setting forth the poll. Another example of disparity in accuracy would be that (according to the most recent numbers I could find, 14.7% of America does not have access to the internet. Presumably, this number is comprised primarily of the elderly unwilling/unable to embrace modern technologies, along with the demographic comprising our nations most economically underprivileged. What percent of each of these demographics do we anticipate exercising their right to vote? Of the sector of those two demographics, what candidates do we feel safe saying they will most likely vote for (given that all their news is most likely coming from print, tv, or radio?
    Considering some of the variables out there, it may be hard to get an accurate reflection of the nation’s exact sentiment on the candidates, however, I feel that with careful, scientific, unbiased approach to this issue, we should be able to get a rough estimation of what’s going on “out there”.
    When I take these things into consideration, I am given the impression that Paul absolutely has a lead in the GOP race right now, with Perry a fairly close second, and Romney behind him. Maybe I’m right, but then, maybe I’m wrong.

    One thing I can say for certain… that whether Paul wins or loses this time, his appearance on the national stage will, in ten years time, be thought not as the major explosion in ideological shift that many believe it is today, but rather the very small flame which will have ignited the powder keg of an informed, and active citizenry. I predict that within ten years time, we will see citizens, inspired by Ron Paul’s words and deeds, seeking seats in every rank of our government high and low.

    And to that effect… Ron Paul, can do nothing but win.

  36. September 11, 2011 7:43 am

    Good job on this!

  37. September 11, 2011 10:28 am

    Hope this shows the people what the media are willing to do.

  38. Jerry permalink
    September 11, 2011 3:18 pm

    Ron Paul recognizes a long festering and very dangerous problem and has followed a time proven method to repair it… when all else fails, follow the instructions! (see the Founding Documents)

  39. September 12, 2011 8:37 am

    This is ridiculous. How can they be so irresponsible. Great post edfk!

  40. September 12, 2011 11:58 am

    Is NBC smarter than a Fifth Grader?

  41. September 13, 2011 2:50 am

    Ron Paul and his son Rand are the only ones going to D.C. that I trust…we have fallen over a cliff and they are the branches sticking out that we might cling to…will we grasp a last chance or fall to our doom…unfortunately I predict a hard crash landing as most people do not engage in real study and lack the guts to shove “political correctness” where it truly belongs…


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