David French of National Review Online critiques news coverage of a bizarre study equating North Carolina with Cuba.

What happens when you combine intense partisan hatred, extreme rhetoric, and standard-fare academic lunacy? You get headlines like these, from writers at the Huffington Post, Slate, MSNBC, and Vox:

“North Carolina’s Democracy Ranked on Par with Cuba.”

“Sorry, North Carolina, but You Don’t Really Qualify as a Democracy Anymore.”

“North Carolina’s Status as a Democracy Is Called into Question.”

“Political Scientist: North Carolina ‘Can No Longer Be Classified as a Full Democracy.’”

Not a democracy? That’s news to more than 4.5 million North Carolina voters who went to the polls last November and voted for a Republican for president, a Democrat for governor, a Republican for Senate, for three Democratic and ten Republican congressional representatives, and who voted to maintain Republican super-majorities in the state House and Senate.

According to the researchers at the ironically named Electoral Integrity Project, however, these elections were no more meaningful than elections in authoritarian states such as Cuba, Iran, and Venezuela. If you drill down into EIP data, you’ll see that they rank nations according to an “index.” In 2014, Iran had an index rating of 63.5. North Korea was slightly higher, at 65.3. …

… Think about that for a moment. Mainstream (and extremely popular) journalistic outlets trumpeted a report claiming that Rhode Island and Pennsylvania are less democratic than a nation that maintains gulags where prisoners are either killed, tortured, or starved to the point where they must eat grass, rats, and snakes to survive. And, EIP warns, Wisconsin and Ohio are less democratic than a dictatorship that executes political prisoners with anti-aircraft guns. But, hey, American states gerrymander and some require voter ID, so they’re . . . worse?