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You Are Not A Savvy College Football Fan Until You Know This

Quick Note: After posting we found a data set that included the 2012-13 season and draft stats. When we updated with these numbers, FSU made a leap to a .55 Pearson’s r. Essentially, FSU was an outlier until last season. 

During the initial round of college football games last weekend, all three of Florida’s major programs won their season openers. As I was in the midst of devouring a salsa-covered chip, a friend announced, in sage-like fashion, that the Gators will “clean up” when the next NFL draft comes around.

Around here we question assumptions with data, and that got me to thinking… I began to wonder…

1) Does a team’s success have an effect on the draft prospects of its players?

2) Are some teams better at converting talented players (draft picks) into wins?

So, I brewed some coffee and dove into the data. I entered the number of draft picks for the Gators, Seminoles and Hurricanes each year in the last ten years and the number of wins in the previous season. I then calculated the Pearson’s r over those years for each team. The Pearson’s r is a convenient little statistical tool that tells us the strength of a relationship between two variables (in this case the number of players drafted and the number of wins). The Pearson’s r may be either positive or negative but will always fall between 0 and 1. In short, the smaller the number, the weaker relationship and the larger the number, the stronger the relationship.

What I found was nothing short of bizarre.

Over the last ten years, the Gators had a moderately strong relationship between wins and draft recruits. The Florida Pearson’s r is .52. The Miami Hurricanes aren’t much different, with a Pearson’s r of .57. This means that when these two teams perform better on the field, their players benefit by having better luck in the NFL draft. But the shocker is Florida State. Their Pearson’s r is .06. This is extremely weak and more or less non-existent. You can see the Pearson’s r comparisons in the graph below.

This lack of a relationship is baffling and means that if the Seminoles perform well, their seniors and juniors are no more likely to be drafted than if the team collapses into a pile of sweat and loses.

For a moment, I suspected this could be explained by the Seminoles’ reputation, so I decided to perform the same calculation on two other historically well performing football teams, the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. This didn’t clear up anything. The Tide had a very strong relationship, with a Pearson’s r of .63. The Fighting Irish had a Pearson’s r of .41. So, the players benefit more from better seasons.

You can check all the data in the interactive table below. If you learned something interesting here today, please share it with your friends.

10-20-Life. Does it matter?

After we posted last week on the relationship between concealed carry permits and violent crime, Greg Newburn of Families Against Mandatory Minimums tweeted to ask about similar data on the policy of “10-20-Life.” You can learn more about this mandatory sentencing policy here.

We did some research and here is what we found:

- Easily accessible public data on Florida firearm crime is not available going back more than a decade. This is unfortunate because 10-20-Life became law in 1998. The bottom line is that we can’t follow the trend all the way back, but we can go back ten years.

- While violent crime in Florida has fallen dramatically over the last decade, gun crime actually spiked in the mid-2000s before falling again in the last few years. In turns out, the trend of using guns for violent crime is a bit disjointed from overall violent crime rates and from the number of concealed carry permits (i.e. more guns possessed by Floridians). Hence, there is no easy connection between overall violence and gun crime or the number of guns and gun crime.

- We can’t make any clear judgments about 10-20-Life without having data from before the policy was enacted. But, you can see the available data for yourself and form your own hypothesis. Ask yourself what trend the overall gun crime rate (purple line on the chart) mirrors. For example, our researcher @mrDanielDean thought gun crime seemed to rise and fall with the economy.

The chart below is interactive- just hover over points to see the data. As always, if you like what you see, please share it!

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


The Meaning of 2010?

We are in the process of creating the first Data Intelligence Briefing, which will take a data-driven look at which districts could switch hands in the next few cycles (The brief will be free, just sign up for our email list on the sidebar).

The chart below shows a line graph depicting GOP performance trends in GOP held seats over the last four cycles.

In general, there is a slight GOP downward trend with the exception of the 2010 cycle. Depending on who you ask, the 2010 cycle was either a sign that Florida is stabilizing politically or just a “bump” on the road to a progressive majority.

The blue line in the chart below shows the average for all GOP seats. The red line gives us a look at what the trend would be if 2010 were just a “fluke.” For the red line, we used Governor Scott’s performance in 2010 to “smooth” out the 2010 bump.

The 2010 question matters because it impacts how you plan for the 2014 cycle specifically and how you view Florida’s political future generally. Will Florida midterm elections remain GOP favorable? Can the Obama campaign machine drive turn out without Obama on the ticket?

If you believe the blue line, the GOP decline is very slight with the average downward slope of .05% per cycle. In essence, securing substantial GOP majorities in congress and the legislature.

If you believe the red line however, the GOP decline is substantial with a dozen Republican held seats showing average performance declines of 1% or more each cycle. In the red line scenario, there would be several new competitive seats.

Let us know your thoughts on the meaning of 2010 via Twitter, Facebook or the comments section below. Our upcoming Data Intelligence Briefing will dive deeper into these questions so make sure to sign up for our email list on the sidebar.

Note: We used the average GOP performance in statewide races to determine the performance for each year. Performance figures are for 2012 drawn seats had those boundaries existed in the 2006, 2008 and 2010 cycles.

Avg GOP Performance Per GOP Held Seat (2006-2012)