Data in everyday life: Presidential voter turnout

Beth SavageLast month we looked at a control chart of voter turnout percentages since 1960, the first year that all 50 states voted in a US presidential election.

Last month’s chart demonstrated that the percentage of those eligible to vote in the US who actually vote in presidential elections has averaged less than 60%. According to Pew Research Center, that is lower than most established democracies. What were voter turnout percentages the first half of the century? Would you expect that they were higher or lower than recent elections? Or, do you think voter turnout has been a stable process for a century? Here’s a control chart based on data from the last 25 presidential elections.

What is your prediction for the voter turnout rate of the 2016 election?

Data in everyday life: Voting

Beth SavageAmerican citizens who are 18 years or older have the right to vote in US general elections. However, it is the voter’s choice whether or not to exercise that right. This is in contrast to countries where voting is compulsory. In Australia, for example, under federal electoral law, all eligible citizens are required to vote in federal elections or pay a $20 penalty. Australia’s voter turnout percentages top 80%.

So what are the voter turnout percentages in the US? Does the voter turnout process exhibit normal or special cause variation? Let’s look at a control chart of voter turnout rates since 1960 (which was the first year that all 50 states were eligible to vote in the presidential election) to find the answers. Does it give any insight to what our 2016 election holds?

Data in everyday life: Olympics

Drew LeisenFriday marked the beginning of the 31st Summer Olympic Games. More than 11,000 athletes from 204 nations will compete in 302 events to prove that they are the best in the world at their sports and to represent their nations on the world stage. Though every country has its strengths, only a handful of countries are repeatedly on top of the medal count boards. The countries that have dominated medal counts over the past five Summer Games (and almost all others) are: The United States, Russia, China, Great Britain, and France. We charted the total percent of medals won by each of these countries over the last five Summer Games to see just how these perennial powerhouses have done.

China, Russia, and the United States are consistently in the top three in all categories. These countries combined accounted for 38 percent of medals earned at the 2012 games, a whopping 369 out of 961 medals!  Great Britain has shown constant improvement over the past five games, earning 5 percent more medals in 2012 than in 1996. Another thing to note is how well the host countries do. The United States hosted the games in 1996 and not only led in total medals earned, but also led in bronze, silver, and gold medals won. China hosted the 2008 games and won about 17 percent of gold medals, leading by a large margin. In 2012 Great Britain continued a steady improvement in medals earned after hosting the games in London. The home court advantage still seems to apply, even during the Olympics!

Drew Leisen is a technical support intern at PQ Systems. He is a senior at Wright State University pursuing a bachelor’s degree in MIS.

Data in everyday life: Out-of-the-box SPC

Derek BensonIn the age of advanced data analytics, sports statistics abound. Take professional sports, for example. It may be common knowledge that basketball player Michael Jordan is revered as the greatest scorer of all time – averaging a record 30.12 points per career NBA game. We know, by virtue of statistics, that Drew Brees is the most accurate quarterback of all time sporting the highest career completion percentage on pass attempts in the NFL. What about Baseball hitting metrics? A great hitter scores high on per-season statistics such as batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage (total bases achieved divided by number of at-bats). Regardless of sport, tradition suggests that statistics are best consumed as a summation of effort over a season or career, and rarely do we compare year-over-year or game-to-game statistics with any value. Further, results analysis is generally Pass/Fail in nature. Did the athlete succeed? Is this number successful? Why or why not? By the time these questions are answered, it’s too late to do anything about it!

In the world of quality, we know better! We understand that any process – even sports – can and should be considered as a process over time if we want to continuously improve. After all, professional athletes are surely striving for their numbers to go up over time. It would be interesting to focus less on “athletic doing” and more on “athletic learning.” What’s important in Statistical Process Control is that we ask the right questions and understand the variation in the process actually being monitored.

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The Masters: A stable or unstable tradition?

Beth SavageThe 2016 Masters Tournament is in the history books. Jordan Spieth had what some are calling an epic meltdown on the final 9 holes of the tournament and, in a come-from-behind victory, Danny Willett earned the green jacket. The tournament is touted as a tradition unlike any other.™  Edge-of-your seat drama aside, does this tradition actually represent a stable process?

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