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Opinion

Math can make you feel better? Count on it!

11/15/2012 - West Side Leader
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By Craig Marks

Math can be a picker-upper. Maybe not as much as a balloon bouquet or a cute video of baby pandas, but, when used correctly, it can do the job.

I bring this up in reference to Karl Rove, who did not have the best of election nights. Rove was on Fox News, serving as an analyst. But he wears other hats. Rove’s super PAC, American Crossroads, convinced rich GOP donors to donate $300 million to defeat President Barack Obama, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown and other Democrats.

When Fox News’ statistical gurus declared on election night that Obama had won Ohio, which was enough for him to win re-election, Rove protested. He said his own numbers showed Mitt Romney was still in the race.

This is when Fox anchor Megyn Kelly punctured Rove’s balloon.

“Is this just math that you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better?” she asked him.

Well, what if it was? What would be wrong with that?

If there is safety in numbers, why shouldn’t there be comfort in numbers, too? I’m a big believer in the power of math to make one feel better.

• Because of math, I can go into a theater showing a “Transformers” movie and say, “This film has eight screenwriters. That means it will be eight times better than a movie with a singular vision.”

• Because of math, I can tell my family, “Why do we need a new computer with Windows 8? Our current computer has Windows 95, which is 87 more windows than Windows 8.

• Because of math, I’m cheered by the knowledge that the Cleveland Browns are still mathematically in the playoff hunt, even if the players are already looking into early January cruise packages.

• Because of math, the $3.99 outdoor thermometer I bought at the drugstore, the one which always reads 40 F degrees, is not, as my wife says, a piece of junk. It is, in statistical parlance, an “outlier.”

• Because of math, I can eat packet after packet of 100-calorie snacks. “Guilt-free” times five still equals “guilt-free,” right?

In the end, Rove’s math let him down. But in the weeks before Election Day, the poll numbers he was relying on gave his side an emotional lift, so much so that Romney reportedly did not bother preparing a concession speech.

As it turned out, Romney would need one. He and the other Crossroads-supported candidates fared poorly, meaning Rove’s donors had little to show for their hefty contributions. Even if you’re rich, that could leave one a little down and demanding an explanation.

If Rove has some extra-strength, feel-better math he saves for special occasions, this might be the time to break it out.

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