Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Horserace Handicappers: Double Standard Edition
We all know who Nate Silver is by now. He moved on from crunching baseball numbers, and his Five Thirty Eight site is a national phenomenon and the electoral predictor of record. Until it isn't.
His calculations are based on science and variables, weighting of national and state polls, and historical precedents. He mixes it all in some sort of witch's brew which spits out a probability. Kind of like a sportsbook or a racetrack, hence the "horserace" metaphor.
Since summer, Silver has placed the probability of Obama's reelection as high as 80%, and no lower than 60%, even when Romney overtook the President in the Real Clear Politics national poll average.
As of the time of this posting, Nate Silver has the president's chance at reelection at 78.4%. Coincidentally, European megabook PaddyPower.com has Obama as a 1/3 favorite. And InTrade.com has Obama with a 69/31 advantage.
Does this mean that Silver is touting Obama? Yes and no. If you're at the craps table and you roll a 2, 3, 4, or 12, that equates to Romney's chances. The rest of the field would be for the President. It's math.
If Obama wins, especially as closely to Silver's model in 2008, the method will be borne out. If Romney wins, Silver loses all credibility. How could he have forecasted Obama so boldly when it was clearly a toss-up election?
Meanwhile on the other side...Dick Morris is an assclown.
His post on Real Clear Politics today is titled, "Here Comes The Landslide." Morris sees the "erosion" of Obama's ground in Ohio, New Hampshire, and Iowa.
He says that in the next few days the battle will move to Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. That "these new swing states look to be the battleground," with even New Jersey and Oregon coming into play. And Morris also says the GOP will see a net gain of six senate seats.
How RCP gives the same amount of space as Silver to someone so clearly in the hinterlands is a farce. The airtime he gets is less for everyone else to breathe.
His electoral map has Romney somewhere in the 350 range. According to Silver's science, the chances of that would be somewhere along the lines of rolling snake eyes four times in a row.
Now as an American, I fully support Morris's right to spew nonsense. What he lacks is both credibility and accountability. On what does he base these projections that allows him to contribute to the national discourse? And if he's wrong, will he admit he was wrong on November 7th?
There's the double standard. Nate Silver's cottage industry needs success to be credible. Dick Morris can predict anything he wants with no consequence.
And in a nutshell, there's the difference in the two bases. One side follows the facts, the other side takes it on faith.