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dilutes the perception that Nate is objective about the election's ultimate result
It's pretty much impossible to have blind data for an election model, or to find a truly unbiased person. But given the number of subjective judgments that go into the construction of Nate's model and his acknowledged strong pro-Dem bias, the objectivity of his model is inherently questionable. To argue otherwise is to question an enormous amount of received wisdom about scientific bias and conflicts.
But partisan bias isn't the only or the primary conflict Silver has. The biggest one is self-differentiation in a clogged and competitive market. You can easily see the effects of this - Silver's model is almost certainly over-complicated, and he publishes results with somewhat comically specific numbers down to the decimal place. What he's selling with his model is complication and accuracy, and he's built a model that serves those purposes.
I'm not saying that there could be no partisan bias, but I think that in considering the things that could screw up Silver's model, it's well down the list and likely swamped by other problems. Of which the biggest, again, are the pressures of the marketplace.
That's a reasonable point, as long as you'd also apply it to the "Christian conservative" co-founder of RCP and the Republican pollster Rasmussen.
People act like Nate "sticking up for his model" is a good thing; it's not.
What does that entail? I've thought about volunteering to help w/ my local elections board but have yet to do so.
Anyway, I'd be very surprised if Romney didn't carry NC.
People act like Nate "sticking up for his model" is a good thing; it's not. If your model gets reviewed by the whole country and you insist that every critique is incorrect, then you're almost certainly ignoring good critiques.
Right now is a terrible time to be tinkering/re-evaluating though. Why on earth would anyone listen to criticism now? The pressure is higher, deadlines loom, and there really isn't any more data (a perfect recipe for making stupid mistakes) so why fool with the model?
Wait a week see what happens and go from there with more data. In the mean time I think he should feel free to stick up for his model as much as he wants.
I just get exasperated when people argue that Nate is honest and trying to be objective, so, OBVIOUSLY his model is unbiased.
Agreed--but I was gonna add, I wonder how many of those folks are under the age of 55.
I'm on Team Gay Stats Wizard, but shouldn't Nate be giving Scarborough odds on a Romney victory? Making a straight up bet reinforces the false impression that his spreadsheet thinks Obama is a sure thing.
I just get exasperated when people argue that Nate is honest and trying to be objective, so, OBVIOUSLY is model is unbiased.
MCoA, my argument would be that he should say nothing. If he's a modeler, why is he advocating in the first place?
edit: anyone know if the House does a straight up majority vote if the election goes there after an EV tie, and no electors can be bought, er, persuaded to change their votes?
Think of the leverage!
The search for the mythical unicorn of unbiased analysis continues I see. I guess anyone who has an opinion on the outcome of the election should be discounted completely? Dick Morris = Nate Silver because both are biased?
MCoA, my argument would be that he should say nothing. If he's a modeler, why is he advocating in the first place? Its the conflation of model-maker and advocate that makes me suspicious that he can be as clinical as advertised; he's got a lot invested in winning in the market. As you noted, this has nothing to do with a partisanship.
The other realm of squishiness is the month between the actual vote and the Electors casting their vote. Some states are sloppy in who they pick, and it's not inconceivable a warhorse given a plum--an aging conservative Democrat or aging moderate Republican--could decide to act for his country to prevent a tie and switch his vote. That's illegal in some states (but would a court uphold an injunction on the Electoral College?) If that happened in a decisive way, then probably members of each House would submit protests to the vote count. (This only came from the House in 2000 and was dismissed since it didn't have a match in the Senate.) Then, if 1876 is a precedent, we'd need a compromise, as the Senate has the right to count the votes (but does that mean the right to determine which votes count?) but the House has the right to settle unresolved elections (but does that mean the right to determine when an election is unresolved?) This is a minor gap in the constitution when the houses are controlled by different parties. I personally would be surprised if the courts were to go to the mattresses to put injunctions on the Electoral College, so that would mean it was up to Congress to figure out some electoral commission like in 1876.
Well, he's first and foremost a writer and blogger. His area of greatest skill is writing about relatively complex quantitative social science problems. So he should be engaged in an ongoing dialogue about election modeling, which should include discussions of and responses to critiques of his own model.
Again, if he's been an advocate for his model even in cases where he should have ackowledged possible or probable weaknesses in his model, then that's bad analysis and he should be critiqued for that. I've seen him get things wrong in the past, he's more than fallible. But I'm having trouble recalling a specific, recent case where Silver advocated uncritically for his model against plausible or convincing arguments.
I'm sure this has been talked about before but the shift of people identifying themselves Republicans to identifying themselves as Independents since the midterms is stark. Romney should do well with Independents--many of them used to call themselves Republicans.
Joe Scarborough ?@JoeNBC
@fivethirtyeight Why don't we both agree to donate $1,000 to the Red Cross right now? Americans need our help now.
@fivethirtyeight Why don't we both agree to donate $1,000 to the Red Cross right now? Americans need our help now
Silver: @JoeNBC: If you think it's a toss-up, let's bet. If Obama wins, you donate $1,000 to the American Red Cross. If Romney wins, I do. Deal?
Of course, the computer nerds didn't have Nate's writing/communication skills, and as you noted, that's one of Nate's biggest assets and it's remarkable (and wonderful) how Nate has changed election discourse through his work.
In the end, though, I think it wise that when the country is quite divided, that it not come down to a purely democratic vote - 50,000,001 to 50,000,000 is not decisive (or believable). I don't really mind at all if the leader to come out of that mess is the one that can best negotiate their way through the various chambers in DC.
The way I always thought of it is that the election is really just the most accurate poll there is, but it's still imprecise, in terms of measuring the vote of people who intend to vote. Some people screw up their ballot; someone gets into an accident on the way to work; someone's boss calls them in early that day, etc. There's a margin of error in the election itself compared to some platonic ideal of the "true" vote, even among folks that try to vote (to say nothing of intentional non-voters).
At some point (e.g. 2000) an election is within that margin of error; at that point, the election is a democratic tie, and I have no problem with less democratic means being used to break the tie. It's not that the voice is being silenced; its that the voice was inconclusive.
Silver's model has a little bit more variation than that, but he also doesn't have very many swing states to deal with. Lets figure five states, where the challenger has to pick off three to win. If he's 50% in every state, he has a 22% chance of winning. If that changes to 70%, his odds are still only 27%. But if the states all move in unison, he's 70% likely to pick up all the states and win handily. So the same numbers can make him 70% likely to win or 70% likely to lose, depending on how you treat correlation between states.
In #78, I was talking about the possibility of faithless electors. They could swing a vote against the popular will, and there are no national laws in place to prevent that. (There are some state laws, but tons of electoral votes are bound only by norms, not by laws).
If Scarborough really believes it's 50/50, he should have no problem with that bet.
(Assuming he doesn't mind the gambling part.)
I don't get this from Silver's perspective. What could this prove? All it does is make him look like an ass.
Yes, but if the vote is close enough that faithless electors can play a role, it is virtually a tie.
If enough faithless electors exist in an election that clearly isn't a tie, then there is probably a good reason. Say Obama wins and in the next month we discover a) he actually is a Muslim plant* and b) he is personally responsbile for Benghazi and has been funnelling weapons and cash to Muslim extremists**. In that case, I would be glad for the electors to switch their vote.
In 2004, John Edwards actually got an EC vote by a 'faithless elector'... it's just one more reason why I'd prefer to just get rid of the whole thing, but the wasteland states -- who already get tons of over-representation as it is -- would never give up any power.
I wasn't talking about an electoral vote tie. Obviously in the case of a true tie, there's no "fair" tie-breaker. The "House votes by delegation" thing isn't the tie-breaker I'd choose (I'd choose "House votes by majority", on thirty seconds of reflection), but it's probably close enough for government work.
Silver: @JoeNBC: Every bookmaker from Las Vegas to London stands with our assessment of the odds.
Silver: @JoeNBC: If you think it's a toss-up, let's bet. If Obama wins, you donate $1,000 to the American Red Cross. If Romney wins, I do. Deal?
My argument is precisely that we shouldn't count on norms constraining electors for all time, when so much power is at stake. My argument is precisely that there could quite possibly be a bad reason for faithless electors - seeking to change the arrangement of power in the country to serve their personal or political interests. And we don't have laws in place to deal with this possible breaking of norms.
Fortunately, though -- the EC math does work against it... it would take an awfully whacky result for a single faithless elector to be able to do anything except ensure s/he never gets anywhere near a ballot again.
Even in 2000 - you'd have needed three schemers on the same page to swing things.
Would you accept a bet if someone offered it to you based on a coin flip? From a financial perspective, Joe should have no problem with the bet if he believes Romney better than 50/50 to win. If he thinks it's 50/50, and Nate thinks it's 75/25, then Nate should be offering odds here.
Would you accept a bet if someone offered it to you based on a coin flip?
I never understood why the overrepresentation of the flyover states is an argument against the EC.
I really am not trying to rag on 'zop. It just seems that way. Feel free to put out some mouse traps to show me the what for.
But what is the EC counterbalancing? It just seems to be a legacy of a bygone era when the nation was still trying to figure out hoe to make a nation out of disperate colonies and was a fig leaf for the small states.
I never understood why the overrepresentation of the flyover states is an argument against the EC. To me, it's no different than leveraging the 14th amendment to create special protections for "protected classes". Rural states are a significant minority, in terms of political power, and it's easy for the rich/populated urban areas to use their power at the expense of the rural area (there are examples of this in pretty much every country without a US style system; see, e.g, the provinces in many of the European countries, in the third world, etc.) I guess there are arguments that concentrating resources in the urban power centers is a feature, not a bug, but you can generate a provincial underclass without disproportionate representation.
The requested odds of the bet is a refutation of the original person's belief.
That's what Nate has done. He's called out Scarborough's "It's a coin flip." description of the race, and says "If you really think that, then bet that way." If Scarborough were to have asked for better odds on the bet, then he's basically saying that his "coin flip" description wasn't true.
I am OK with the urban helping out the rural. it is a legacy of days gone by when the farm and in general "the land" really was the straw that stirred the drink, but whatever farm folk should have electricity and the internet too, as well as educated kids, healthcare and so on.
The economy is not nearly as land based as it once was and the engines of growth really are urban, but still the transfer of payments does not bother me all that much. What makes me crazy is the vilification of the city and the glorification of the farm. What a load of horse-pucky that is and it is so freaking annoying.
"The sticks" "flyover country" "white trash" "what's wrong with Kansas"
No, no urbanite ever insulted rural America.
In volume and significance if you think they are even remotely equal then you must not be a San Francisco Liberal, you must come from the heartland with values gained from growing up on the family farm (and drive a pickup, like Scott Brown).
Has any major urban candidate ever asserted that cities were the only places that were "real America" and the "pro America parts of this great nation"?
Let's turn this around. Say Joe offers a bet, saying he'll donate $250 if Nate's right, and Nate donates $750 if he's wrong. If Nate turned that down does that mean he's refuting his model? I don't think so.
You don't see a whole lot of modern media celebrating the sticks. Hell, if you don't live in the right zip code in an urban area you don't really matter.
So what? I'm sure I can find dozens of examples of insults directed at rural folk that were never heaved at city denizens.
This entire discussion highlights why I am for very limited federal government. Who holds power at the federal level is of vital importance to everyone in a way it wouldn't be if power were pushed further to states and cities. Yes, that might mean there are some towns and counties with policies that offend you. But the result of the current system is that you can't afford to lose out at the federal level.
Nate's model missed the House by a bunch of seats in 2010 - though I believe he beat RCP and Pollster - but he predicted a large Republican wave in the House, just not quite as large as the wave that happened. He was pretty much spot-on in the Senate. "Didn't pick it up" is not a good description.
It reminds voters that Romney wanted to drastically scale back federal responsibility for disaster relief, and that the last time his party held the presidency we had Katrina and Brownie and got a preview of this policy in action.
The beauty is that this particularly loopy part of Romney's agenda was almost certainly forced on him by the Tea Party crazies. It's hard to believe that anyone with Romney's undoubted overall intelligence would ever come to such a position independently, but this is what you get when the most vocal part of your party's base is absolutely deranged.
[Obama isn't] up in North Carolina by much, if at all; the recent polls have been showing the race as a statistical tie, more or less.
There's simply no reason that taxpayers in Kansas should have to pay every time a hurricane hits Florida, or taxpayers in New Mexico should have to pay every time a major blizzard hits Connecticut.
Most of the truck ads I've seen are celebrating the hard working folks on farms and mines. They show the dirt covered truck hauling wood/rocks across dusty roads and through the mountain passes.
In terms of politics, not hurt feelings, we have an imbalance.
(a) The political stuff - where money flows and who votes for what is imbalanced. (b) If city-folks were as powerful and smart as they think they are, they'd figure something out in this regard.
Would you be in favor of a Constitutional Amendment prohibiting states from collecting more money from the federal government then they send?
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