Our concern about Silver’s predictions: Today, we’re going to admit it:
We’ve come to regard Nate Silver’s daily predictions as one more of the shiny objects which distract from the real campaign.
That said, his work is tightly reasoned! This morning, we read this in our hard-copy Times (Washington Edition):
SILVER (10/23/12): Still, it is important to emphasize that saying Mr. Romney is the underdog is not the same thing as saying he will lose. If we calculated the odds correctly, he has a substantial chance of winning. If the set of candidates you have listed as 67 percent favorites in fact win 95 percent of the time, or 100 percent of the time, you’ve done something wrong. Over the long run, such candidates should win two out of three times—no less and no more.If we’re following that correctly, a 67 percent favorite should win two-thirds of the time!
Whatever! With two weeks to go, can we share our concern about this year’s polling predictions?
According to Silver, Candidate Romney “still seems to be trailing, by perhaps two percentage points, in the states that are most vital in the Electoral College, the ‘tipping-point’ states.” That worries us, because of something we keep hearing on The One True Channel.
On the One True Channel, we’re sometimes struck by the juxtaposition of two warring claims. First, we’ll see a segment about the voter suppression efforts which are active in the land.
Then, we’ll see a triumphant segment about the way Obama is ahead in the polls in the key swing states.
Correct us if we’re wrong! But to the extent that those suppression efforts take hold, those polling results may be bogus. People who quit on an eight-hour line don’t end up voting at all, let alone in the way they told some pollster they would.
On The One True Channel, the children rarely seem to be struck by this problem. The one type of segment is designed to make us angry at the other side. The other type of segment is designed to make us all happy and glad.
The twain doesn’t seem to meet.
Day after day, Silver’s minutely feathered predictions change by tenths of a point. On our side, we attend to our shiny object.
Over on the other side, are they finalizing the plans by which they’ll suppress that (predicted) vote?
Next post: Looking back!