Walt Hickey at FiveThirtyEight:
FiveThirtyEight and SurveyMonkey Audience ran a poll from June 3 to 5 asking 1,129 Americans which camp they fell into, and wouldn’t you believe it? We’re split on that comma.
We asked respondents which sentence was, in their opinion, more grammatically correct: “It’s important for a person to be honest, kind and loyal.” Or: “It’s important for a person to be honest, kind, and loyal.” The latter has an Oxford comma, the former none.
The result was pretty much down the middle, with pro-Oxford partisans commanding 57 percent of the vote and opponents to the tyranny of the extra comma grabbing 43 percent. Although those numbers might be enough to defeat Eric Cantor, it’s hardly a clear victory for the Oxfordians.
As a general rule, AP drops punctuation and spaces to preserve space. While newspapers are dying (and the guys who used to set type by hand are gone), I prefer the style. I learned AP style in high school and college and my brain barely registers that the punctuation exists, much to the chagrin of my wife and her fancy English degree.