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Fri Sep 11, 2020, 01:16 AM

MONTANA: MSU political scientist analyzes partisan connection to USPS box removals


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Parker said in 13 out of 14 instances, the percentage of votes cast for Sen. Jon Tester was higher in the precincts with box removals than the county total. But he wanted to look at more factors and data.

With the help of FactSquared, a company that logs large datasets, we sent Parker the results of a 2019 FOIA request from the USPS. It shows the difference in USPS collection boxes over the last 11 months. Parker analyzed the locations of more than 1,400 boxes with other variables like population density, population change, county box density and boxes left standing. He says colleagues at MSU and Stanford checked his work.

Parker says the analytics show the higher the Democratic vote in a location, the more likely the box is to be removed. In Gallatin County, Parker says the probability of a box being removed increased more than six-fold as it moved from the county’s most Republican precincts to the most Democratic.

“The thing I want people to understand is that statistical processes help us look for associations. We have here an association between Democratic vote and removal of a box,” Parker said. “But I want to make absolutely clear that if there are these other factors I’m missing, I want people to let me know, communicate that with me so I can run the models in different ways. As a political scientist, I want to go where the data are and make sure my results are robust.”

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