Category Archives: Data

Racial Profiling Report Just Another “Race Baited Article by the Liberal Courant”?

by Categorized: Data, Law Enforcement, Race/Ethnicity Date:

For all the data analysis conducted by The Courant, no other topic comes close to generating the reader reaction we receive when looking at apparent racial disparities in policing.

That was evident once again this week with the release of fresh police-stop data showing – as previous releases have – that statewide, black and Hispanic motorists are stopped and ticketed at higher rates than white drivers.

That led to a flurry of comments on The Courant’s website – more than 100 at last count – most of which took exception to any implication that police officers might be treating minority drivers more harshly. Some were simply self-disproving diatribes – posts that used overtly racist slurs in arguing that racism was non-existent. But others took aim at the statistical methodology applied, some raising legitimate points, others misinterpreting or making incorrect assumptions about the analysis applied.

So, as we have in the past, here’s a primer on the data collected by the Connecticut Racial Profiling Prohibition Project and on the Courant’s analysis of post-stop behavior, along with responses to the most frequent issues that are raised whenever we dig into this data. Continue reading

Bronin-Segarra Vote Shows City Divide

by Categorized: Data, Politics, Race/Ethnicity Date:

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra often insisted that race was not an issue in his unsuccessful battle with Luke Bronin for the Democratic mayoral nod. But balloting in Wednesday’s primary election suggests otherwise,with voting patterns highlighting the city’s division along racial and ethnic lines.

As the election map below illustrates, Bronin, represented by the green shading, Broninwas strong in precincts in the northern half of the city, while Segarra, represented by orange, did well in the south. The maps farther below, drawn from Census data, show that the city has a similar division racially and ethnically, with most black residents concentrated in the North End, and most Latinos in the South. (Click shaded areas in the election map for vote information and the Census maps for demographic details.)

While the final vote spread was 55 to 45 percent, voting in individual precincts was far more lopsided. Where the candidates won, they won big. Out of 24 precincts in the city, Bronin won seven with more than 70 percent of the vote. Segarra topped 60 percent in five precincts.

So  Bronin captured the nomination by winning  – and winning decisively – in predominantly black precincts, overcoming Segarra’s generally strong support in precincts with large numbers of Hispanics. Bronin also did well in the West End districts that are home to large concentrations of white residents.

On the campaign trail, Bronin frequently promised an administration that would work “for all of Hartford’s residents.” Wednesday’s vote could be an indication of how difficult it may be to unify all of the city’s constituencies.

Population concentrations in Hartford for Hispanics (above left), blacks (above right), and whites (below).

Statewide SBAC Scores Offer Evidence of Wide Achievement Gap

by Categorized: Data, Education, Race/Ethnicity, Uncategorized Date:

Last week, we wrote about an analysis of the newly released standardized test scores that offered some evidence of a widening gap in the Hartford area between historically high-performing school districts and those that have traditionally had below-average scores.

We’ve now expanded that analysis to all school districts in the state, and have found the same general trend: For most subject and grade Printgroupings, school districts that exceeded the statewide average on a key measure of achievement in 2013, reported scores on the 2015 test that were even farther above the state average. Likewise, schools with below-average performance generally lost ground, falling farther below the statewide average.

In elementary school math, for example, among the 20 highest-performing districts two years ago, 18 had scores this year that were farther above the state average. Among the 20 lowest-performing districts two years ago, 16 dropped farther below the average.

Put another way, the above-average districts in 2013 outperformed the state by an average of 16 percent, while the below-average districts lagged the statewide figures by an average of 11 percent. But in 2015, the higher performing schools had widened their margin to 29 percent above the state average, while the lower-performing schools had dropped to 25 percent below the state average.

That’s what the numbers show. Divining what the numbers mean is a far harder task. Continue reading

SBAC Results Suggest a Widening Gap Between High- and Low-Performing Districts

by Categorized: Data, Education Date:

Local school officials got something of a break this year from the ritualized hand-wringing that typically accompanies the release of the state’s standardized-test results. With the first statewide administration of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium penciltest, 2015 is a benchmark year, setting a baseline of scores that officials will be hand-wringing over in 12 months.

But while state officials correctly warn against comparing achievement scores on the SBAC test to the prior CMT and CAPT tests, there is a way of to get some insight into how schools and districts are progressing. The Courant conducted that analysis for 19 towns in the Hartford region, and the results offer some evidence of a widening gap between the highest- and lowest-performing districts in the state.

For the analysis, the Courant examined the percentage of students scoring at high achievement levels on the SBAC test (those who met or exceeded the target achievement level) and calculated how each district performed compared to the state average. We did the same thing for the CMT and CAPT tests in 2013 – the last year the tests were widely administered (looking at students deemed “at goal”). Then we looked at whether districts had improved their position relative to the state average, or whether they lost ground compared to the state as a whole.

For simplicity’s sake, we grouped elementary grades and middle-school grades, and we combined data for the reading and writing portions of the CMT and CAPT tests, as the SBAC test includes a single English-language test.

As shown in the graphs below, for nearly all subject/grade levels we analyzed – high school English was the only exception – there is a clear trend in which towns that outperformed the state as a whole in 2013 generally extended their margins over the state average on the SBAC test, and towns with achievement levels below the state average two years ago fell farther below the average this year.

To read the charts: Blue arrows indicate an improvement in a district’s position relative to the state as a whole, and orange arrows indicate a decline. Data points above the zero line indicates a performance exceeding the state average, and points below the zero line indicate performance lagging the state average.

So the first arrow below shows that 3rd, 4th and 5th graders in Avon had an at-goal percentage in math in 2013 that was 30 percent above the state average. That’s the bottom of the arrow. On the newly released SBAC test, the percentage of elementary students meeting or exceeding the target achievement level was 73 higher than the state average. That’s the top of the arrow.

For elementary school math, the chart shows that of the 11 towns that performed above the state average in 2013, all  but one extended their margins. Similarly, of the eight towns that lagged the state average two years ago, all but one lost more ground compared to the state average. Most of the other charts show a similar trend.

We’ll extend our analysis beyond these Hartford-area towns and see if the trend holds statewide. To explore SBAC scores for your town, see the chart and visualization created by my colleague Stephen Busemeyer.







No Shortage of Detractors for Racial Profiling Findings

by Categorized: Data, Law Enforcement, Public Safety, Race/Ethnicity Date:

Racial and ethnic disparities in policing has long been an uneasy topic in Connecticut and across the country. And that was reflected in reaction to a Sunday story in the Courant reporting that black and Hispanic motorists pulled over for traffic violations were more likely to receive a ticket than were white motorists pulled over for the same offense.

Many commenters and email writers were quick to challenge the findings,  advancing a slew of reasons why the data or the analysis was flawed, and confidently assuring that there was a legitimate reason for any disparities in policing. Some raised legitimate questions. Others misunderstood the analysis.

The Courant performed a similar analysis in 2012 – and received a similarly visceral reaction from many readers.  So as we did three years ago, here’s an elucidation on a few of the topics raised by readers.

The most common misconception was that the reported disparities simply indicate that black and Hispanic drivers violate traffic laws at higher rates than white motorists. “Could minority drivers commit more motor vehicle violations than non-minority drivers?” one poster asked. “No, this can’t be true. that would be racist.” Continue reading

Dodger Stadium Sells Enough Hot Dogs to Round the Bases 3,551 Times

by Categorized: Data, Sports Date:

Baseball season gets underway this week, and the cheering in the stands may be matched only by the cheering at something called the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, which is gleefully looking forward to the consumption of 18.5 million franks and another 4.2 million sausages at ball parks between now and the World Series.

The Council, part of something called the American Meat Institute, estimates season-long hot dog and sausage sales will rise about 6.5 percent at the nation’s 30 major league ballparks. dodgerdog And leading the way by a mile are fans in Los Angeles, where concessionaires are expected to sell 2.5 million of the park’s legendary Dodger Dogs. The 10-inch frank, which typically gets higher marks for nostalgia than culinary prowess, has a starting price of $5.50, and climbs from there with several variations, including the Brooklyn Dodger Dog with a snappy casing, and the chili- and jalapeno-topped Doyer Dog.

Fans of the Dodgers eat a million more hot dogs than the second-place New York Yankees, and outsell the sixth-placed Fenway Franks by 3-to-1. At the bottom of the pack is Kauffman Stadium (no relation) in Kansas City, where a barbecue pit and a smoker draw fans to cuisine the city is decidedly more famous for.

While the hot dog remains the staple of stadium fare, sausage sales are surprisingly plump at some ball parks, particularly in the Midwest. At Miller Park in Milwaukee, sausages actually outsell hot dogs, an indication of the marketing success of the stadium’s campy Sausage Race competition.

Below is a chart of estimated dog sales at all 30 parks.


Connecticut Lottery: 43 Years, Nearly 25 Billion Dollars

by Categorized: Data, Finance, Government Date:

Forty-three years ago, as Connecticut officials were gearing up to sell the very first tickets for the state’s newly approved lottery, Gov. Thomas Meskill bullishly declared that residents’ appetite for legalized gambling would put $14 million into state coffers in that first year – a figure editorial writers at the Courant eyed dubiously as “optimistic.”

The paper needn’t have been skeptical. Meskill hit his figure, and in the years since the lottery’s launch on Feb. 15, 1972, ticket sales – and the state’s take of those sales – have skyrocketed.

In fiscal year 2014, lottery sales in Connecticut topped $1 billion for the fourth year in a row. That’s a hair under $400 a year for every Connecticut resident old enough to buy a ticket. Adjusted for both inflation and population, that is a five-fold increase over that first heady year. And with national surveys showing only about half the population plays the lottery, that suggests the average player is spending close to a $1,000 a year on tickets – with heavy players dropping several thousand.

LotteryByGameAs ticket sales have grown, so has the state’s share of the take, increasing from $14 million the first full year, to $319.5 million in 2014. For the last 20 years, inflation has accounted for much of that growth; since the mid-1990s, ticket sales and state revenue have been generally flat on an inflation-adjusted basis. But overall, the state has sold more than $24.7 billion since the lottery launched, keeping about a third of the money – more than $8 billion – as revenue. Continue reading

How We Knew Tom Foley Was in Trouble on Election Night

by Categorized: Data, Politics Date:

For hours after the polls closed Tuesday night, as vote tallies cropped up from town to town, Tom Foley enjoyed a steady if tantalizingly thin HC 10 MALLOY ELECTIONmargin in his quest to unseat Gov. Dan Malloy.

But here at The Scoop, we could tell early on that Foley was in serious trouble, even as he seemed to be thousands of votes ahead.

Our early warning came from a simple system that not only compiled the local results as they were announced, but also analyzed how each candidate was faring compared to their initial match four years ago. That deeper look at the numbers showed that almost from the beginning, there was evidence Foley was facing an uphill battle to avoid a replay of his 2010 defeat.

Connecticut elections typically display a sharp divide between the most-populous cities, which vote overwhelmingly Democratic, and smaller suburban and rural towns, many of which lean moderately or heavily Republican. But it’s those smaller towns, many with a single voting precinct, that report early, giving Republican candidates a phantom edge that can be wiped out when the totals come in from the cities.

In the newsroom, we could see that while Foley once again did well in traditionally Republican towns, he was losing ground in many of those communities compared to four years ago. Later, it was evident that he had failed to substantially chip away at Malloy’s huge margins of victory in the large cities. For more details on how Malloy’s victory came together, see my colleague Dan Haar’s excellent analysis.

Tuesday’s vote offered a fresh reminder of the dangers of reading too much into early returns. So on election nights to come, it’s worth remembering that even with hyper-competitive news coverage of a hyper-competitive political process, patience is still a virtue.

The map below shows how Malloy and Foley fared Tuesday, compared to their vote spreads in 2010. Towns shaded blue are those in which Malloy performed better than four years ago, either by extending his margin of victory or shrinking Foley’s. Similarly, red-shaded towns are those in which Foley either won by more votes or lost by fewer. Deeper colors indicate are more dramatic improvement over 2010. Click on a town for details.

Town-by-Town Vote Margins for Connecticut Governor

by Categorized: Data, Politics Date:

As town results trickle in from local registrars tonight, we’ll begin to have a sense of how Tom Foley and Dan Malloy are faring in the battle for the governor’s office. But since different towns complete their counts in different time frames – and particularly because larger cities tend to lag significantly behind small, one-precinct towns – early figures may give a lopsided view of how the race is really going.

With this campaign a rematch of 2010, a better measure might be to compare each candidate’s town-by-town margin of victory against his margin four years ago. That’s what this chart accomplishes. As each town reports vote totals for Foley and Malloy, the chart will show which candidate saw gains compared to 2010, either by extending his lead or narrowing his opponent’s lead.

So if suburban towns report early in the evening and indicate, as expected, a preference for Foley, this chart will show not merely that Foley is doing well in the suburbs, but whether he’s doing better or worse than he did four years ago. Likewise, while Malloy is expected to win big margins in the cities, this chart will show whether he has lost or gained ground compared to 2010.

Note that the chart will have no data for the 2014 race until the first towns report, sometime after 8 p.m. Note also that refreshing the page will load the latest data.

Away From the Coast, Foley Dominated Gubernatorial Primary

by Categorized: Data, Government, Politics Date:

Tom Foley won a broad and commanding victory in Tuesday’s Republican primary for governor, taking a majority of votes in all but a relative handful of lower-Connecticut cities and towns.

Challenger John McKinney, who lives in Fairfield, had a strong showing in his hometown and bested Foley in 18 other municipalities as well, most of them on the water in Fairfield and New Haven counties. But Foley dominated in every other part of the state.

Below is a town-by-town map of election results as reported by Reuters. Towns shaded red indicate vote spreads favoring Foley and towns shaded blue indicate vote spreads favoring McKinney. Click on a town to see actual results. Results are not available for the two Eastern Connecticut towns in gray: Pomfret and Preston.