the story of how The World Almanac and Book of Facts came to put Chris Dudley as winner of the gubernatorial race in Oregon last November.
Yes, that is news indeed, as the winner was in fact John Kitzhaber.
How did The World Almanac and Book of Facts get it wrong? The editor there, Sarah Janssen, tells us that there was a tight deadline, and at the time The World Almanac and Book of Facts went to press, Dudley was leading the vote tally. Thus the Almanac has had its "Dewey defeats Truman" moment.
Now, I wasn't there, and believe it or not I don't actually know everything about everything, but I don't get this one.
Here's what I saw in last November's election (noting, first of all, that I'm an Oregon resident, so I was probably more in tune with the race than the editor at The World Almanac and Book of Facts):
1. Election day came and went with Dudley in the lead.
2. A survey showed that almost every county but Multnomah had reported 100% of their precincts.
3. Kitzhaber was leading Multnomah County by about 2-to-1.
4. Multnomah County is not only the most populous county in Oregon, it is the only county in Oregon that can truly say it has a large enough population be called urban.
5. Multnomah had reported well under 50% of its precincts, and there is no section of Multnomah County where a Republican like Dudley would pull in more than 35-40%.
6. A few simple calculations told me that Kitzhaber would win the state by at least 10,000 votes, in spite of Dudley's early lead.
7. I had this figured out by noon on November 3.
8. The Oregonian itself was projecting a Kitzhaber win by late November 3.
9. I don't get see how any deadline could be so tight for such a big giant book like The World Almanac and Book of Facts that they couldn't get this right before signing off on proofs.
10. I think The World Almanac and Book of Facts pulled up the morning news on the 3rd, saw Dudley was ahead, and just let it fly without a second thought.
11. Have I ever made a mistake in editing? Yes, I actually have.
12. But I don't think I was ever so vague in my explanation.
13. I therefore think "Unfortunately, this is just the kind of thing that happens when you are on a tight deadline" is pure cop-out of the highest order.
14. It strikes me that this story just flips the whole "unreliable online sourcing" vs. "reliable, edited, printed material" argument on its head. Note that The World Almanac and Book of Facts has the correct numbers in its online edition.
15. Writing in lists leads to haphazard organization.
16. Or had you noticed that already?