Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Nate Silver, Math, and Those Who Spit Nails

If you don't know who Nate Silver is, you really should. He correctly called the outcome of the electoral vote in 2008 for 49 of 50 states. He missed Indiana, which went to Obama. (Those Hoosiers! So bequieted by their conservatism that they sometimes appear deceased, and then they go and do something wholly unexpected. Richard Mourdock, better call your office!) More remarkable, Silver correctly predicted the winners of all 35 Senate races in 2008. He uses math.

And he's making some -- many -- talking heads on TV sputteringly mad. Joe Scarbrough on Morning Joe:
"Nate Silver says this is a 73.6 percent chance that the president is going to win? Nobody in that campaign thinks they have a 73 percent chance — they think they have a 50.1 percent chance of winning. And you talk to the Romney people, it's the same thing," Scarborough said. "Both sides understand that it is close, and it could go either way. And anybody that thinks that this race is anything but a tossup right now is such an ideologue, they should be kept away from typewriters, computers, laptops and microphones for the next 10 days, because they're jokes."
That outburst led Charles Pierce to observe that Mr. Scarbrough had "engaged in a remarkable feat of Being Stupid." Hee.

For a fairly complete run-down on the math Nate Silver is promoting, and the outrage being expressed against him, here's a very good account of the history (hattip: The Impolitic).


Brushfire said...

It's very important that the election appear close so they can rig the voting machines and steal the election, as they did in 00 and 04.

Rich N White said...

Nate gives the president an 83% probability he will be re-elected.

He is rarely wrong and consistently defies (and drives mad) the conventional pollsters.