Decision MediaWorks

The “Freakonomics” of Guns and Violent Crime in Florida

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Human existence is driven by assumptions derived from our experiences and patterns that we have observed. These sorts of assumptions are likes rules of thumb that scientists call “heuristics.”

An interesting element of heuristics is that two people can look at the same facts and apply very different judgments about those facts. One example of this is the fact pattern of the Trayvon Martin trial which leads people to one of two very different views on Florida self defense laws.

Now, data science can’t tell us much about the Martin case, but it can give us some insight into the actual relationship between lawfully carried guns and violent crime. The table below shows the total number, net change from the prior year, and percentage change from the prior year of concealed carry permit (CCP) holders and violent crimes in Florida.

We chose to look at the concealed carry permit numbers because it is a rough measure of the number of lawfully owned guns being carried on Florida’s streets. We are looking at the data to see if there is evidence that more people carrying guns in a state with “loose” gun laws results in more or less violent crime.

We have also provided a graph depicting the relationship of concealed carry permits to violent crimes and a graph just depicting the number of violent crimes in Florida each year.

Is the relationship here as clear as it appears? Are other important data not being evaluated? Take some time to look over the data provided below and let others know what you see via social media. You will be surprised on the diversity of opinions on just this one simple data set.

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Summering in North Carolina

Recently, Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise announced that SunPass would now work on North Carolina toll roads. This agreement makes sense seeing as how every Floridian we know has made the requisite pilgrimage to the mountains this summer.

If you’re interested in more facts on this long standing vacationing trend, check out this article from a North Carolina business publication (WARNING: You will learn what native North Carolinians really think about us “Floridiots”).

We wanted to get a better picture of which Florida cities are best represented along the ridges, so we made this list of Florida cities with the highest Google search volumes for “North Carolina.” The cities are ranked in proportion to the top searching Florida market (Jacksonville).

As always, if you find this a tid-bit interesting, please share it.

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The Hidden 30-year Trend That Has Dem Operatives Salivating

Among the longest standing assumption among political practitioners is that young voters start liberal and move to the right as they age.

The narrative goes that voters under thirty are traditionally heavily influenced by outspoken peers or lefty college professors. These youthful voters move to the right, however, as they begin careers, pay taxes and have children.

Pollsters watched as Baby Boomers and Gen Xers took predictable paths to voting Republican. The assumption is that Millennials will follow the same course.

They will not.

The chart below shows the generation gap in presidential voting since Jimmy Carter. A few items to note about this chart:

- The generation gap in voting has never been wider. The apparent drop in 2012 is exaggerated because many Millennials turned thirty between presidential elections and were counted in the 30 and over crowd in 2012.

- For most of the last thirty years, there really has not been a generation gap. Younger Boomers and all Gen Xers generally did not swing hard for one party over the other. In fact, the average pre-Obama vote gap was only 3.6 percent.

Millennials are a radically different generation from their parents with regards to communication and social traits. In the coming weeks we will explore what the data says about this large generation and why they will not follow traditional political behavior patterns…and why that matters to Florida’s future.

Enjoy the interactive chart and if you like it, please share it.

Data from Pew Research Center


DCF: A Sign of Things To Come

We saw this article from the Miami-Herald about the Department of Children and Families new fraud prevention technology. The article says the new LexisNexis program “uses complex algorithms and ‘billions and billions of records across multiple decades’ to perform what it calls identity analytics.”

The Department would not identify the “secret sauce” of the program so we decided to demystify the technology for you.

The new program uses the same technique that Facebook uses to verify your identity. The program randomly asks applicants about a piece of information from their history, just like when Facebook asks you to identify pictures of your friends if you are locked out of your account.

The DCF program figures out what information to ask about by searching for public records associated with an applicant. The “algorithms” (a set of instructions to a computer) for searching these documents and matching them to an applicant are not really that “complex” in a technical sense. It works something like this:

1.The computer is told to “go find all records that match the set of information (name, phone number, social security number, address, etc.) provided by the applicant.”

2.The computer finds these documents and then ranks them by what documents look like the best match. This is kind of like how Google ranks your searches.

3.Another algorithm searches the best matching documents for predefined data fields (year, color, location) and generates a question to the applicant based on that information. For example, drawing from a birth certificate the question may be “What city were you born in?” Or from a car registration you could get “What color was your 2007 Honda Accord?”

The real cost drivers for these Big Data programs are the collection and storage of the data. Those costs however, continue to rapidly fall which will allow new programs like this come online over the next decade across the public sector. For instance, a similar program could not be used to verify voter identities.

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