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Significant Digits For Friday, Oct. 12, 2018

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news.

More than 60 percent of searches

According to new research in the journal Science, more than 60 percent of DNA searches on a relatively small data set of about 1.3 million people would result in finding a person’s third cousin or someone closer. That may not seem too impressive, but it’s the same closeness of match that was used, for example, to identify the Golden State Killer earlier this year. [The Verge]

245 F-35 fighter jets

The Department of Defense temporarily grounded all 245 of its F-35 fighter jets. Late last month, one such jet crashed in South Carolina, and a fuel tube may have been at fault. [CNN]

559 pages and 251 accounts

It’s not only Russians who can troll. Never ones to be outdone, Americans, too, are getting in on the act. For example, an American blogger spread fake stories on Facebook after Christine Blasey Ford’s Senate testimony, including that her lawyers were bribed by Democrats. Yesterday, Facebook said it had identified 559 American-run pages and 251 American-run accounts spreading false and misleading information, and that the company would remove them. [The New York Times]

2.536 million viewers

There are signs that Fox News viewers are tiring of watching President Trump’s rallies, and he’s no longer a “sure bet” to top Fox’s regular programming. For example, a rally in late August received just over 2.5 million viewers, compared to a regular 4 million viewers for rallies in 2017, and a 2.8 million average for Tucker Carlson’s show in that primetime time slot. The network has recently stopped airing Trump’s events in their entirety, not wanting to cede its primetime programming. [Politico]


West Virginia’s 3rd District is dark red — crimson, garnet, burgundy even. To wit, it’s R+37, meaning it’s 37 points more Republican than the country overall. However, the current House race there is only rated as “Lean Republican” or even “Toss-up,” my colleague Geoffrey Skelley writes. It’s an open seat held by the presidential party, which can make districts vulnerable to flipping. If the district flipped, it’d be the biggest such flip since 1998. [FiveThirtyEight]

20th state

Washington state’s Supreme Court struck down the death penalty, making it the 20th state to do so via legislation or the courts. The court’s chief justice wrote that the state’s capital punishment law lacked “fundamental fairness” and that it was unequally applied when it came to race. [Associated Press]

Love digits? Find even more in FiveThirtyEight’s new book of math and logic puzzles, “The Riddler.” It’s in stores now! I hope you dig it.

If you see a significant digit in the wild, please send it to @ollie.

Oliver Roeder was a senior writer for FiveThirtyEight. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied game theory and political competition.