With “Partisan Politics at Work,” Anderson and Fienberg continue their spirited, if misleading, defense of the plan to statistically adjust the census count. Unfortunately, their argument in favor of making the adjustments misses the mark and they gloss over some of the most serious of the evidence presented against the methods of adjustment. Rather, they are more interested in trying to remove politics from an inherently political process, which I maintain is an unrealistic goal. I conclude my portion of this exchange by reiterating my position that statistically adjusting the census totals will, at best, provide numbers that are no better than those of a traditional headcount; at worst, doing so may provide very inaccurate data.
At the end of their second article, Anderson and Fienberg plead for “legislation to insulate the Census Bureau from efforts at political manipulation and restore to it the authority to manage the technical details of how to fulfill the constitutional mandate for a census.” I do not share these wishes. Why does the federal bureaucracy need any more protection from congressional oversight than it already enjoys? Certainly, Census Bureau officials have more technical expertise and they are more readily able to judge whether a particular sampling plan is sound than are the collective members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Nevertheless, the Bureau remains the fiduciary for Congress. Erecting barriers between the two groups is not a solution to any identifiable problem.