Math in the Senate Election

November 6, 2014 at 4:23 pm Leave a comment

With the election two days in the rearview mirror, three states remain undecided in their Senate election:

  • Louisiana, which uses an archaic and easily manipulated run-off system;
  • Alaska, where Mark Begich claims that there are many uncounted rural votes; and,
  • Virginia, the Old Dominion — my home state — with Mark Warner and Ed Gillespie in an apparent dead heat.

As of this morning, Warner was ahead 1,071,283 to 1,054,556. That’s a lead of 16,727 votes with 99.9% of precincts reporting. Local newspapers have declared Warner the “apparent winner,” but no concession has been offered.

Why hasn’t Gillespie conceded yet? Perhaps it has to do with simple math.

While 0.1% sure doesn’t seem like a lot — and it’s not, if you’re talking about the amount of alcohol in a bottle of whiskey — it can represent a lot — like when you’re talking about the amount of alcohol in your blood.

It’s also a lot when you’re talking about millions of votes. If the 2,179,235 votes counted so far represent 99.9% of all votes, then the remaining 0.1% represents 2,181 votes. If Gillespie gets all of them, that would bring him within 14,546 votes of Warner. Were Gillespie to get all of the provisional votes that are yet to be counted — the number of which is unknown — well, he probably still won’t win, but I suppose you can’t blame a guy for trying.

And let’s not forget, we’re talking about politicians. For most of them, delusion is a normal state of existence.

A politician’s wife called him from the hospital. “Honey, I had triplets!” she exclaimed. The politician responded, “I demand a recount!”

To be fair, many politicians think realistically — they just don’t think very often.

A cannibal goes to the butcher shop and notices that mathematician brain is selling for $1 a pound, but politician brain is selling for $4 a pound. “Is the politician brain really that much better?” she asks the butcher.

“Not really,” he says. “But it takes a whole lot more politicians to make a pound.”

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The Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks blog is an online extension to the book Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks. The blog contains jokes submitted by readers, new jokes discovered by the author, details about speaking appearances and workshops, and other random bits of information that might be interesting to the strange folks who like math jokes.

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