by Benjamin J. Kirby
Short post tonight, because I have a lot of candy to gorge myself on to hand out to trick-or-treaters.
I think when the story of this election gets written, someone smarter than me should take note that much of it was almost assuredly driven by quasi-corrupt, partisan pollsters (like the creeps I wrote about the other day). They're not polling people to glean valuable data and discern trends and likely outcomes in important swing-states -- they're putting together fodder for the idiots at Fox News to blather on about.
And I think once that's made clear, people are going to be moderately outraged (only moderately, because I think more than anything, people are burned out on this stuff).
So there's been some recent obnoxiousness about the work Nate Silver does at Five Thirty Eight, which has Obama with a 77.4% chance of winning right now. Silver uses science and math -- the stuff which President Clinton likes so much -- to show these trends and predict fairly accurate outcomes (he was something like one state off last time around).
This level of certainty drives the regular punditocracy insane with rage. After all, how can you report on a NECK AND NECK RACE!!! when President Obama has a seventy-seven percenet chance of winning re-election?
How is it, by the way, a numbers nerd like Silver has earned the wrath of so many in the political talking head universe? After all, it can't just be because the guy is making some prediction -- essentially doing his job.
I think it's because he's written a book, The Signal and the Noise, which I have not read but will. It's about how predictive models work... and don't work.
The first thing that popped into my head was the magician who shows how the trick is done. Other magicians hate that guy. After all, what's the appeal of magic if you know there's a string, or a trap-door, or whatever.
Anyway, I have a feeling Silver will be pretty close to right again this time around. If not, that'd be pretty scary...
Stay safe tonight and watch out for the ghouls, goblins and witches.