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I found the following passage in an NPR article today:

The Biden campaign and supporting groups have spent almost 90% of their money there, while Trump and Republican organizations have spent 78 cents of every dollar across the six.

(Source: https://www.npr.org/2020/09/15/912663101/biden-is-outspending-trump-on-tv-and-just-6-states-are-the-focus-of-the-campaign)

I don't understand why the author decided 90% once and then "78 cents to every dollar" the second time. Is it to avoid repeating "%"? Would it not be easier for the reader if the two quantities are represented equally?

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I'm not sure what style NPR uses, but usually, yeah, you would just use percent for both quantities (since saying x cents per dollar is the same as saying percent and is more confusing than saying percent). Given the provided context, it should be something like, "...almost 90% of their money there, while Trump... have spent 78% of their money over the six."

As for why, it's either the specific style they use or they're trying to intentionally confuse the audience (90% vs 78 cents per dollar (spread across the six) makes more vague the actual disparity/accentuates the perceived disparity)

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  • It could be that they are trying to make the Biden amount sound like a lot more than the Trump amount. The percentage "90%" seems to sound like a lot, whereas "78 cents" could somehow appear cheap because of the word "cents." If this is so, it's pretty dumb, but writers do that sort of thing.
    – KayCee
    Commented Sep 17, 2020 at 19:38

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