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Significant Digits for Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016

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

2.5 percent

The S&P 500 dropped 2.5 percent Wednesday, just the latest in an ongoing sell-off of U.S. stocks. [Bloomberg]

5.8 percent

Fourth-quarter sales growth at Del Taco, one of many Chipotle competitors capitalizing on the chain’s food-safety issues. [Bloomberg]

7 percent

GoPro, which makes durable cameras you strap to your head, had a miserable holiday sales period and announced that it will cut its workforce by 7 percent. The company also just happens to have the highest-paid CEO in America. [Marketwatch]

42 percent

Ted Cruz is the front-runner to win the Iowa Republican caucuses, but not everyone agrees on how likely he is to take the top spot. On the low end, a polls-only model puts his chances at victory at 42 percent. On the high end, Betfair gamblers have him at a 65 percent chance of winning. Somewhere in the middle is the FiveThirtyEight polls-plus model, which has Cruz at 50 percent odds to win. [FiveThirtyEight]

65 percent

The war on kickers is ongoing, but the kickers are winning. Despite a rash of NFL rules designed to make their jobs harder, kickers crushed it this year. They made 65 percent of kicks from 50 or more yards, putting them second only to the foot-users of 2013. [FiveThirtyEight]

137 votes

The House of Representatives successfully passed a bill imposing new sanctions on Iran, which would normally be the end of the bill’s business in the House. Job well done. In this case however, 137 members missed the vote, making both parties look foolish; it’s bad enough that House leadership has agreed to schedule a do-over vote/joint campaign promo at the end of January. We’ve finally found the bipartisan platform with which to bring together our fractured body of government: House Democrats and Republicans writing late passes for themselves and wasting time and energy on optics. [CNN]


The Village of Whitesboro, New York, considered rebranding its now-infamous seal. To many, the seal is an obvious depiction of a white man strangling a Native American; advocates insist that it simply depicts a friendly wrestling match. At the very least, one might suggest that some additional clarity is in order. The Village of Whitesboro disagreed, as residents voted 157-55 to keep the seal unchanged. [The Guardian]

238 appearances

Earlier this year, Melissa Click attempted to interfere with the work of a student journalist covering a protest at the University of Missouri, and Click’s interaction took on a life of its own. The Chronicle of Higher Education recently obtained the contents of Click’s inbox in the two days after the video was released. It’s rough in there! The most common response involved “shame,” “ashamed,” or “shameful,” which as a group appeared in 238 emails. Still, it got worse. [The Chronicle of Higher Education]

130,000 albums

“Blackstar,” David Bowie’s mic drop album, could sell 130,000 copies by the end of the week, potentially putting it at the top of the Billboard 200. This would be a first for any Bowie record. [Billboard]

$39 million

Upper-end estimate for how much the U.S. might save by redesigning nickels and dimes. The metallic compositions of the coins are expensive given their actual worth as currency, particularly in the case of nickels. Changing the copper/nickel alloy to one involving steel could save the U.S. Mint a lot in materials costs, according to a new Government Accountability Office report. [Yahoo Finance]

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If you see a significant digit in the wild, send to to me: @WaltHickey.

Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.