Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight (Randy Stewart / Wikipedia)
The below images are electoral forecast maps, the first one posted this past weekend by Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight and, following that, posted by Unskewed Polls on October 28, 2012. Unskewed is, essentially, a conservative-bias imitator (and a pale one, at that) of Silver's blog.
Bit of a difference, no? Unskewed's Dean Chambers gained notoriety for not only criticizing Silver a few days before he posted the above forecast, but for stooping to homophobia to do so.
Nate Silver is a man of very small stature, a thin and effeminate man with a soft-sounding voice that sounds almost exactly like the "Mr. New Castrati" voice used by Rush Limbaugh on his program. In fact, Silver could easily be the poster child for the New Castrati in both image and sound.
But here we are, the day after the presidential election and, according to the most recent returns, Silver not only correctly predicted the 50%-48% popular vote split for Obama, but correctly picked all 51 Electoral College votes (all 50 states plus Washington, D.C.), including the ultra-close Florida vote. So, yeah, he's good at what he does. And he's $2,000 richer - or at least the Red Cross is - after a bet with political
loudmouth pundit Joe Scarborough over who would be right about the election (a bet that caused much hand-wringing only because people have to worry about something). Chambers, meanwhile, picked Romney to take 51% of the popular vote and 275 Electoral College votes. The only discrepancy in Silver's predictions are his total Electoral votes projections which don't match his "chances of winning a state" math, but something that relates to the way Silver weighs different polls and those outcomes are weighed differently.
In the harsh light of a new day, even Chambers is having to admit: Silver was right, I was wrong. And he's not alone. Politico posted a list of which polls were most accurate in projecting the outcome and oft-cited polls like Rasmussen and Gallup were at the bottom while PPP was at the top.
But none were perfect like Silver was. It's unfair to call this Silver's Redemption because the backlash that hit Silver in the final days weeks so wrong-headed and born out of a conservative distaste that he had Obama in the lead. If anything, it was a victory lap for someone who understands the math and models necessary to make accurate prediction. In the last two presidential elections, Silver has accurately predicted 101 out of 102 Electoral votes (99 states and D.C. twice) and twice nailed the popular vote split. His work speaks for itself and the vitriol directed towards him is simply the voice of denial from the right, the same right that wouldn't hesitate to back him if he had correctly picked a Romney win (and one has to assume that, while not based in homophobia, dems would have similarly dismissed Silver's numbers the way they dismissed Chambers).
Silver has earned our respect and earned the right to gloat. But it's best that he didn't; towards the end of the campaign, Silver did let his cool demeanor slip just a bit in defending himself against criticism. Instead, in a tweet that went out shortly after multiple media outlets had called the election for Obama, Silver simply posted a tongue-in-cheek tweet (posted below), perhaps the best mic-drop moment he could have hoped for and one he deserved.
This is probably a good time to link to my book: amazon.com/The-Signal-Noi...— Nate Silver (@fivethirtyeight) November 7, 2012