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Significant Digits for Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015

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

Before we get into it, though, I do want to thank you: this edition is the one-year anniversary of Significant Digits! None of this would have been possible without your continued support of FiveThirtyEight, and we really do appreciate your readership, especially in the year ahead. If you’re interested, throughout the day I’ll be tweeting out meta Significant Digits as I find them at @WaltHickey.

If you’ve enjoyed this column or newsletter, encourage your friends to subscribe! Thanks for reading, and back to the numbers:

2.7 years

Being the president does a number on the body: Researchers found that heads of state lived about 2.7 fewer years than those they defeated in an election. This, combined with a clean-living lifestyle, means that Mitt Romney is going to live forever, right? [Stat]

3:01 a.m. ET

A heads up if you plan to venture further into the Internet today: The embargo on press reviews of the forthcoming “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” came to an end at 12:01 Pacific time, which was 3:01 a.m. for those of us on the east coast. I, personally, am in a bit of a predicament here, given that I want to avoid social media like the spoiler-ridden plague it is, but I am also responsible for producing a daily newsletter about interesting data stories from around the Internet. The Web taketh, the Web giveth. [Tech Insider]

11 reports

The glorified scooters that kids are erroneously calling “hoverboards” have repeatedly caught fire, according to 11 reports to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. As a result, Amazon has pulled hoverboards off its site, including those made by a leading brand, Swagway. Honestly, if you can’t trust a brand named Swagway, whom can you trust anymore? [USA Today]

19 states

Number of states where it’s perfectly legal for teachers to implement corporal punishment, which is Latin for “hitting kids when they won’t behave.” The vast majority of these states are in the South. [The Atlantic]

48 percent

Percentage of New Zealand voters who voted in a referendum about which flag design should potentially be the nation’s new flag. An emblem involving the southern cross and a black, white and blue silver fern won the first vote, and will now be pitted against the country’s current flag, which has more of a Union Jack feel. The final vote will take place in March. [BBC]


Big victory for those who don’t want to see first responders to the September 11th attacks die in impoverished agony: Part of the Zadroga Act — which provides health care to Ground Zero workers who suffer from lifelong cancers, disabilities, and illnesses resulting from the inhalation of toxic substances after the 9/11 attacks — will be extended through 2090, the result of a substantial lobbying campaign from dying first responders. [NBC News]


The amount of money Sen. Marco Rubio paid to a company called Campaign Solutions in the first quarter, the largest recipient of his funds. Campaign Solutions rents out Republican email lists to whoever pays for them, and Rubio isn’t the only one who is. Sen. Ted Cruz has dropped upwards of $2 million on Campaign Solutions’ services. [POLITICO]

13 million

You know MacKeeper, that scamware app that advertises heavily on bittorrent sites and other illicit file-sharing services? Neither do I, never go near the stuff. Anyway, 13 million accounts of the service, which promises to optimize a computer, were recently hacked by a white-hat hacker. Remember, the first rule of the Internet is that you shouldn’t download software advertised next to pirated movies. [macnn]

$35 million

Amount Jeb Bush and allied groups spent on television advertising since September, far more than his opponents for the Republican nomination, in order to accumulate single-digit support. This makes Draft Kings and Fan Duel’s marketing decisions look downright sensible in comparison. [NBC News]

$1.1 trillion

Negotiators from both sides of the aisle arrived at a $1.1 trillion spending deal that would set spending levels through 2017. The deal involved delaying the implementation of taxes related to the Affordable Care Act, while also providing for the extension of several tax breaks. The House of Representatives will vote on it late this week. [The New York Times]

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Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.