Monday, October 22, 2012

Nate Silver's Flawed Model

From Josh Jordan, at National Review, "The New York Times number cruncher lets his partisanship show":
“Oh, people can come up with statistics to prove anything, Kent. Forfty percent of all people know that.” — Homer Simpson.
In the days before the first debate in Denver, President Obama held more than a four-point lead in the Real Clear Politics average, and Romney had been left for dead by most of the media. Then the debate came, and overnight Romney seemingly rid himself of the weaknesses that had been tacked on to him by over $100 million dollars in negative advertising. Now here we are a few weeks later with a dead heat in nationwide polls.

As worry built up among Democrats that Romney had tied the race nationally and had clear momentum heading into the final stretch, they began attaching their hopes to what BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith called “the bulwark against all-out Dem panic” — Nate Silver.

Silver gained fame by correctly predicting 49 of 50 states in the 2008 election using a statistical model that assigns weight to the various polls based on a number of factors. After the 2008 election, Silver partnered with the New York Times, and he has been quoted by many media outlets as the gold standard for predicting what will happen in November.

Some note that 2008 was a wave election, where the enthusiasm and underlying fundamentals were so favorable to Obama that the outcome was easy to foresee, with the exception of a few of the GOP-turned-Democratic states such as Indiana and North Carolina where Obama won a razor-thin victory. Others argue that Silver’s access to the Obama administration’s internal polling gave him information that most other analysts never saw, which allowed him to make more adjustments to his model and increase his accuracy.

Whatever the explanation, Silver’s strong showing in the 2008 election, coupled with his consistent predictions that Obama will win in November, has given Democrats a reason for optimism. While there is nothing wrong with trying to make sense of the polls, it should be noted that Nate Silver is openly rooting for Obama, and it shows in the way he forecasts the election.
Oh, he's "openly rooting" for Obama alright. He's practically giving the president fellato by predictive ratio. But read it all at the link (via Jonathan Tobin).

You know, Silver's really getting to know the inside of that woodshed, like the back of his hand!


* "Boom! Romney Back Up 52-45 in Gallup's Daily Tracking of Likely Voters."

* "ABC News Touts Nate Silver's Prediction That Obama's Handicapped at 68 Percent Chance to Win!"

* "'It's becoming increasingly obvious that Silver can't be taken seriously...'"

* "Nate Silver Blows Gasket as Gallup Shows Romney Pulling Away in the Presidential Horse Race."

I'll have more on this later.

I hesitate to call this series the "Nate Silver suicide watch." I mean, gosh, I'd feel horrible for the wonder boy if something bad happened to him after November 6th.