Nate Silver calls a dead cert.

nate silver


While I think that Romney will win I fear that my confidence is a bit lower than Nate’s.

Of course, he is just telling us what his models tell him. Colby Cosh had an interesting piece at Macleans yesterday. I commented:

As political models go Silver’s (from what we can see of it) is mildly innovative in that it provides a probabilistic prediction based on the polling snapshots.

The conventional polling is just about the snapshot mapped onto the Electoral College. And, as such, there is very little it can do predictively. In effect, a poll is (to a greater or lesser degree) a picture of the state of the race at a particular point in time.

Now there are tons of clever things you can do with snapshot polls if you want to spend the time. For example, you can come up with a rank for each poll relative to its past success. Or you can look for trends within a particular poll or how well it correlates with other polls. And, for fun, you can dump all that information into a big honking regression analysis with an artificial dichotomous independent variable and push the big red button: boom, a probabilistic prediction. Fun the whole family can enjoy.

Does it predict electoral outcome?

Realistically, we don’t have enough data points to say anything very robust on that score.

A couple of hundred iterations and you might have a sample which you could analyze and come up with realistic error calculations.

For now the description of Silver as a “data journalist” seems about right. Nothing wrong with that.


One thought on “Datapoint

  1. I’m calling it for Obama, but only because I’ve lived long enough that I’ve learned one should never discount the power of stupidity.

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