Numbers

Numbers

: Below, I joined in the Stern-v-Seipp pissing match over the citizenship of Howard’s audience (defending my people against the snobbery Seipp expressed in the very nichey National Review, of course). In the comments, Eric Barrett made some wonderful calculations:

How about some numbers?

36% of voters aged 18-24 vote. This is the lowest percentage of any eligible age group. I’ll be conservative and use this number for the entirety of Stern’s listeners, even though a large percentage is surely over the age of 24.

I’ve no idea what the average age range of National Review readers is, but let’s be conservative and pick 55-64, which has the second highest voting rate of any age group, at 70%. (The highest is 65-74, but that seems a bit old to me. In any case, they only vote at a rate of 72%.)

Now, given the numbers Mr. Jarvis posted above, and disregarding invective rhetoric about the intelligence of Stern fans, this means that approximately 3,000,000 Stern fans will vote. If only 5% (my assumption) are former Bush-committed voters influenced by Stern, that’s 153,000 who will vote against Bush in the election who would not have otherwise. That’s the size of the entire National Review readership!

But even if my assumption above is completely bogus, we’re talking 3,000,000 voting Stern listeners to 112,000 voting NR readers. And (warning: another assumption of mine here) given the political spectrum of NR is fairly fixed (i.e. much of it is “preaching to the converted”), whereas Stern has fans all across the political spectrum, the NR has even less influence relative to Stern.

All figures taken from the US Census Bureau, “Voting and Registration in the Election of November 2000″ (Adobe PDF, page 6, table B).

Do not underestimate the power of the Stern demographic, damnit. If you do — if you snear that “they” don’t vote or “they” are stupid or “they” don’t care — then you’re just exposing yourself to be a snob. And I hate snobs.

  • Mike

    Give me a break. Could very well be the dumbest and most ignorant post you have ever had!

  • mm

    So, the math implies that there are 8,333,333 Stern listeners age 18-24. Is that the case?

  • shark

    Do not underestimate the power of the Stern demographic, damnit. If you do — if you snear that “they” don’t vote or “they” are stupid or “they” don’t care — then you’re just exposing yourself to be a snob. And I hate snobs
    BWAH HAW HAW!
    A blog version of a temper tantrum?

  • shark

    Um….what makes these calculations so wonderful?
    His numbers percentages he uses confirm the general point- that Stern’s listeners generally won’t vote while NR’s readers will.
    You’re comparing unequal sample sizes to reach a conclusion that the bigger one……..is bigger.
    WOW.
    Mathematical genius I say!
    So how did you prove your point again?

  • Andy

    This only works if you assume that 100% of everyone who listens to Howard thinks exactly like him.
    My limited experience is that Howard fills the boring drive time with cheap thrills. The kids who listen to him and hang with my kids tend to be scary conservatives (they live in CA) who have been run over by political correctness most of their lives.
    Given a few beers among friends and they leak hard right wing views. Given a chance to vote they go hard right. They even donate money to conservative politicians.
    Howard titillates. Howard says “Show us your boobs” and “Take off your panties”. That is exciting in a state where anything more than 7 seconds of gazing constitutes leering and a hostile workplace. Get a sexual harrassment action filed and its gonna be hard to find that next job.
    Howard does not exist is isolation. His demographics do not arise purely in response to his political appeal.
    He also does it for the money.

  • Mark

    I’m trying to get my mind around the statement that if I call someone stupid or make the observation that they don’t vote or don’t care, that this makes me a snob. Hmm. What if they really are stupid? What if they really don’t vote and don’t care? Is it impermissible to make an observation about that? Doesn’t the sheer truth or falsity of the statement matter more than why I make it?
    Some things really are stupid. Howard Stern and his gimmicks like the contest where three fathers competed in a trivia contest, and if they answered a question wrong they took an item of clothing off their daughters, is at a minimum stupid. Anyone defending Stern gets an eyebrow raise from me.

  • superfly

    Your example, if true, proves that “they” do not vote. You are trying to prove that Stern listeners are more politically active than National Review readers. I would suspect that almost all National Review readers vote and the percentage of 72% for National Review readers is too low. Why would you read National Review if you do not vote? Maybe some minors and non-citicens fall into this catagory. Do you read it for the music reviews? Maybe, but I suspect these are very small minorities. A substantial percetnage of people listen to Howard Stern only for the fart jokes and sex discusions. There is a good chance that most of his audience falls into this atagory. I doubt they vote much.

  • matty

    wow, so much bile. i thought it was a good point: stern reaches a huge audience, and they obviously enjoy listening to him. even if he is only able to convince a very small percentage of them to either 1) vote when they wouldn’t have, or to 2) change the vote they’d have made, it could make a huge difference in a closely divided election.
    how many people have their opinions changed by the national review? mostly choir showing up for their sermon, with some op-research and outraged liberals keeping up with the other side’s line of thinking. i’d venture someone like andrew sullivan reaches a greater number of people who haven’t yet made up their mind that nr.
    and so many folks seem so angry about what he has to say. that’s the thing about free speech, its a pain when you don’t agree. who decides?

  • http://www.bennett.com/blog/ Richard Bennett

    Sadly for the Sternrollers, you got to be 18 to vote.

  • http://caribpundit.blogspot.com Helen

    Jeff: Nick Berg’s murder has reminded America of the danger facing our society. Do you seriously think that anyone cares about Howard Stern’s right to spew obscenities over the airwaves? I don’t.

  • Zip

    I think most people in this country are getting fed up at the right in this country. The lying the half-truths. The events in Iraq and what happened to Berg are just more examples that the current administrations lacks and smarts to run a war on terror properly. There will be a record turnout to vote bush out of office this November.

  • http://beggingtodiffer.com Hei Lun Chan

    I’d also point out that saying if only 5% of Stern listnerers change their minds is a vast overestimate in assumption. Given that probably at least 80% of the electorate have already made up their minds and won’t change their votes no matter what, and that half of the remaining 20% are leaning Bush, that would mean that Stern would be persuading half of all Bush leaners to change their votes. Does this sound plausible to anyone?

  • billg

    If Stern is the arbiter of American taste and opinion, bring on the snobs. Popularity has never been an indicator of value. So what if he’s got millions of fans. So do other forms of porn.

  • http://beggingtodiffer.com Hei Lun Chan

    Here’s some numbers I made up, just as plausible as Eric Barrett’s:
    –approximately 35.3% of the 8.5 million Stern listeners vote.
    –10% of those who vote don’t just tune in for the “humor”, they actually listen to what Stern say about politics.
    –40% of the previous group are definitely voting for Kerry, 40% of them are definitely voting for Bush, 10% are leaning Kerry, 10% are leaning Bush.
    –20% of the Bush leaners live in a competitive state.
    –1 in 6 agree with Stern that Bush is censoring Stern.
    –10% of these people care enough about this to base part of his vote on this.
    –1% of those people actually change their vote from Bush to Kerry because of this.
    By my math, Howard Stern will persuade exactly 1 voter whose vote matters to change his vote from Bush to Kerry.

  • Mike

    exactly the reason I called the most ignorant post I’ve read by Mr. Jarvis. So whose numbers make more sense Eric’s or Hei Lun’s? Answer: we’ll never know, but both are plausible and both mean nothing because they can’t be verified.
    Of course if John Kerry wins we can be sure of one thing, Howard Stern will claim that he is partly responsible for the victory (again with no facts to back him up).

  • Charlie (Colorado)

    And it’s actually spelled “sneer”, besides.

  • KMK

    Salon had numbers from an actual poll. It’s a subscription piece but this is googles cached page http://64.233.161.104/search?q=cache:Jekn1fc-6SQJ:www.salon.com/news/feature/2004/03/12/stern/+Salon.com+News+%7C+Howard+Stern%27s+schwing+voters&hl=en&ie=UTF-8
    They put his listening audience in the 30- to 40-year-old range.
    “Stern’s sustained FM taunts come at a tough time for the White House, which has watched Bush’s approval ratings fall to new lows. Even more disturbing for Republicans was the revelation in the latest USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup poll that Bush’s traditionally strong support among male voters is down significantly, and that Bush actually trails Kerry among those voters”.
    “That’s the demographic Howard Stern targets specifically,” says Goyette. “If Bush’s grip on men continues to soften, he could be in big trouble.”
    This is the poll link. http://www.usatoday.com/news/politicselections/nation/polls/2004-03-08-poll_x.htm

  • Steel Magnolia

    “If you do- if you snear that “they” don’t vote or “they” are stupid or “they” don’t care — then you’re just exposing yourself to be a snob. And I hate snobs.”
    I know the type. They think Stern is just some crass political lightweight. Don’t you know his popularity drives them crazy? They’re too busy looking down their noses to actually listen to what the guy says, but they’ll mock you if you do.
    Stern is like a litmus test for snobs and aren’t they just coming out of the woodwork these days? They’re everywhere! They’re reading your blog! They’re your demographic. Jeez, you must hate that!

  • http://www.tonypierce.com tony

    i love you people.
    only Today’s Republican would try to convince intelligent people that the number one morning radio talk show host who has an audience of approximately 8 million listeners would have zero influence on the upcoming presidential election.
    and they do it with a straight face.
    and if you say “hey what about the fact that Clinton left office with America’s biggest surplus and Bush has sent us into the biggest deficit…” they will say something equally lame like “the economy is getting better, shut up.”
    similarilly to what jeff wrote in this post, stern is far more powerful of an individual because unlike rush, hannity, o’reilly, or even franken, stern isn’t preaching to the converted since he himself isn’t one of the converted.
    he is powerful because like many, he voted for Bush in the last election, voted republican in more recent elections than democrat, but this year will vote democrat.
    and he tells 8 million people a day on radio and tv why for hours
    and hours
    and hours.
    you’d have to be completely insane if you didnt think that that would have an effect on some of those people.

  • george

    This is an unfortunate post Mr. Jarvis. Ms. Seipp “suggested that the radio shock jock’s core 18-to-34-year-old demographic aren’t all that likely to get to the polls anyway.” Which is perfectly reasonable, since younger people tend not to vote, as conceded in your own post.
    The comparison between Stern’s audience and the NR is beside the point. If you have to make such a tedious comparison I think it should be between NRO and Stern, not NR and Stern. But the comparison itself smacks of the notion that one cannot criticize unless one is better than the one you are criticizing.
    If you want to seriously assess Stern’s potential influence on the election you must do a lot more work. As everyone should understand after 2000 it matters more where you vote than who you vote for. I don’t know where exactly that Stern is carried, but I’m pretty sure a large chunk of his audience is in NY, CT, RI, MA, DC, and CA, all solidly Democratic.
    The real question is: how many people in battleground states will change their vote because of Stern?

  • hen

    Hey Tony – Thanks for the love – However, while i stopped listening to him, when i did it wasn’t for his political discussions, it was for his humor, which has become rarer then a clear thinking lib recently.
    If you think Bush will lose the election due to Stern get over yourself – you know what, if Stern is so hugely influential and respected Kerry sh give him the VP nod, right?

  • h0mi

    only Today’s Republican would try to convince intelligent people that the number one morning radio talk show host who has an audience of approximately 8 million listeners would have zero influence on the upcoming presidential election.

    Because this talk show’s influence over his listeners has been grotesquely overstated. 2 candidates were elected in 1993 and 1994 (3 if you include Giuliani) during a time when Democrats were not very popular and Republicans were winning elections all over.
    This same talk show host couldn’t get those 8 million listeners to go see his movie about his life/show when it came out, buy his books or CDs or watch his CBS show. And these 8 million listeners are ~4 million fewer than he had years ago.
    And those 8 million listeners who happen to live in NY didn’t support Stern backed/endorsed D’amato in his last campaign. Other candidates for office (I’m recalling a candidate for Judge in Cleveland) who were endorsed in the late 90s failed to win their election as well.
    similarilly to what jeff wrote in this post, stern is far more powerful of an individual because unlike rush, hannity, o’reilly, or even franken, stern isn’t preaching to the converted since he himself isn’t one of the converted.
    That’s the theory. But if people disregard his political views as he fails to persuade him, he’s not especially “powerful”.
    he is powerful because like many, he voted for Bush in the last election,
    He voted for and supported Gore. Not Bush.
    voted republican in more recent elections than democrat, but this year will vote democrat.
    He has not voted for a Republican for President as far as I know; he supported Clinton twice and Gore in the last 3 elections. I know nothing about his support for candidates for office during the 80s. Even if the FCC issues had never happened this year, the chances were good he’d still have supported Kerry over Bush on the Abortion issue or Stem cell research issue.
    And regarding this gem:
    “hey what about the fact that Clinton left office with America’s biggest surplus and Bush has sent us into the biggest deficit…”
    Just curious but what figure do you use when looking at the federal debt?

  • http://www.elflife.com/ carsonfire

    I’m a Stern listener myself… on and off… his humor is brilliant, and I admire him for his fearlessness. But does that mean that I and millions of other Stern listeners are mind-controlled robots who think Howard’s god, and will blindly ignore the war on terror in order to help Howard screw up national government in what is essentially his national pissing match?
    Seip is probably right, if she’s talking about that small (I hope) segment of listeners who think Howard *is* god, and will slit their wrists if he asks them to. The rest of us will listen to his wild humor and vote our conscience.

  • shark

    he is powerful because like many, he voted for Bush in the last election, voted republican in more recent elections than democrat, but this year will vote democrat
    Tony, he has admitted several times lately he voted GORE in the last election, and voted for Clinton both times.
    So do you want to retract or admit you’re a liar talking out of your a$$?

  • shark

    only Today’s Republican would try to convince intelligent people that the number one morning radio talk show host who has an audience of approximately 8 million listeners would have zero influence on the upcoming presidential election
    You leave oh so much out of this thought:
    1) Not all Stern listeners vote lockstep
    2) Not all Stern listeners vote
    3) Sterns powerbase is by far strongest in solid Dem states. Discount ALL of them, as they make no difference to the outcome
    So yeah, I don’t think he has enough juice to either register new voters or switch (R) to (D) voters in battleground states.
    he is powerful because like many, he voted for Bush in the last election, voted republican in more recent elections than democrat, but this year will vote democrat
    Well, now that you’ve destroyed whatever credibility you had with this….and you say you LISTEN to the guy? Clean out your ears.
    and he tells 8 million people a day on radio and tv why for hours
    Causing many people to tune out or zone out until he goes back to being funny. Even those who listen generally have the ability to discern a reasoned political argument from the ad hominem attacks, conspiracy theories, outright lies, and ignorance that passes for Sterns political observations.
    you’d have to be completely insane if you didnt think that that would have an effect on some of those people
    Agreed. I would bet that if anything, Stern will move more voting people towards the Bush side of the fence than anything. His Al Franken/Air America/DemocratUnderground type of constant venom and whining gets old quickly…

  • Catherine

    It occurs to me that not many people on this blog have taken logic in school and don’t know that some is a scaling adjective.
    As a daily Stern listener until recently when it got boring, the one thing that would make me wince was hearing him talk about politics. He is so uneducated in that area. I am not saying that I disagreed with what he said, but it was so obvious that he has no idea how things work, who said and did this or that…clueless. I would wince because it made me feel sorry for him and think, “stick to what you know.”
    Oh yeah, and he supported Rick Lazio against Hillary and he lost that one too.

  • h0mi

    Catherine- I didn’t recall his supporting of Lazio because he was never an anti-Hillary person.
    So I checked marksfriggin.com:
    http://www.marksfriggin.com/news00/10-30-00.htm
    Howard spent a few minutes talking about the upcoming election and how he’s pushing for Gore. He said he’s sick of Bush’s stance on abortion and his ”entititlement to everything” attitude. He said Gore isn’t the greatest person to vote for but he might be good for the environment. He stuck to the abortion issue for the most part. He said that neither of these two nominees will ”rock the world” if they’re elected but he’s still pushing more for Gore. He also said he’s pushing for Lazio in the NY senate run against Hillary Clinton.
    and
    http://www.marksfriggin.com/news00/11-6-00.htm
    Howard spent some time talking about how Rick Lazio is the right guy for NY Senator but when a listener asked him if he’s even voting he said that he’s not. He’s not registered in the right place to vote and he said he’s not driving two hours out to his former home out on Long Island to vote. He admits that he’s a hypocrite. Robin brought up his movie as an example of his hypocrisy. Howard said he just got a royalty check for the movie the other day and he said that he hates being reminded about it.
    http://www.marksfriggin.com/news98/4-27-98.htm
    Howard is urging registered democrats who live in Cuyahoga County Ohio to vote Ted Sliwinski in for judge next tuesday in the democratic primaries. The current judge, McGinty, is the judge who heard the case where someone was caught cutting the satellite feed for Howard’s celebration show in Cleveland. Judge McGinty made some comments about Howard Stern fans that really pissed Howard off. Now Howard is trying to get him booted out of his job. Howard talked to this new guy, Ted Sliwinski, who is running for that position. He’s been an attorney for 22 years and that’s all Howard needed to hear to back him. He’s also married with 2 children. So here’s the slogan I just came up with ”F-McGinty! Vote Sliwinski!”
    http://www.marksfriggin.com/news01/10-29-01.htm
    Another person up for election called in to get Howard’s endorsement. Larry Horowitz is running for Westchester County Executive so he called in quickly. He told Howard he’s a big fan of the show so Howard said he’d endorse him. It was that simple!
    Stern has a reputation of kingmaker that’s grossly overstated and undeserved. Bob Grant had as much to do with Whitman (Florio free in 93) and Pataki winning their respective elections.