Archive for 538

Thursday Links



Susanne Atanus, Who Blames Gay Rights For Tornadoes, Wins GOP Nomination For Congress

Rand Paul Compares Republican Party To Domino's Pizza: 'We Need A Different Kind Of Party'

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's Crack Video Described By Police

Russian Forces Storm Ukrainian Naval Headquarters In Crimea

Nate Silver’s New Science Writer Ignores The Data On Climate Science

Kansas, Arizona Laws Requiring Voters Prove Citizenship Upheld

Louisiana Public School Finds Out It Can't Force Christianity On Students

The Toxins That Threaten Our Brains


Nate Silver: After all votes are finally counted, Pres. Obama likely to extend his lead to 3%-plus


Nate Silver has been mocked, insulted, and slurred by very angry, very humiliated, very small-minded, nasty conservatives, because he was right. The GOP and the truth haven't been getting along too well, and this was no exception. Republicans *coughKARLROVEcough* believed their own polls, they reside in their own bubble, and they've literally ignored facts and figures.

But none of that could change the truth, and none of that has fazed Nate the Great at FiveThirtyEight, who has even more to say. And that "more" includes President Obama likely extending his lead to a healthy three percent.

Here are a few excerpts from Nate's latest post titled "Turnout Steady in Swing States and Down in Others, But Many Votes Remain Uncounted":

Initial accounts of last Tuesday’s presidential election contemplated what seemed to be a significant decline in turnout from 2008. Those reports may have been premature, at least in part. [...]

Even without these votes, turnout in the battleground states over all was generally near its 2008 levels. In contrast, it is down by about 9 percent in the other 40 states, based on ballots counted so far. Some of the shortfall will be made up in the coming days. In California, where most balloting is conducted by mail and where it can take weeks to certify the vote, about 3.4 million fewer votes than in 2008 have been reported so far.

As the rest of the votes come in from California, Mr. Obama could add about 700,000 more votes in his margin against Mr. Romney, assuming that the remaining votes are divided between the candidates in about the same proportions as the ones counted so far.

Those votes could be enough to push Mr. Obama’s margin of victory in the national popular vote, reported at 2.7 percent as of Monday morning, to slightly higher than 3 percent.

And just to rub snark to the GOP wound, here's a treat from my hilarious buddy Andy Cobb:

To the extent that his proclivities are of importance to you please substitute "dudes" for "chicks" in all dialogue: Mr. Silver is gay. But in the popular imagination he's suddenly become a heterosexual superhero--wonky, pragmatic, and able to steer through uncertain times. Suddenly girls wanna do him/men wanna be him. Good for him.

"Drunk Nate Silver" became a Twitter thing recently, which makes perfect sense. People intuitively know prophecy is a gift...and a burden. In the face of such relentless clarity he might well crave some oblivion--if you or I had to deal with that kind of insight we'd probably go straight to the bottle and get messy as Rasmussen.

So if the web wants to superimpose Charles Bukowski on Nate Silver, let it. I would personally rather fantasize that he's a booze-hungry skirt-chasing seer of visions than learn all that fucking math.

And cm'on, if you don't buy his book you're going to have a much harder time pretending you've read it:

Don't be the last person at the party to act like you understand Bayesian processes vis-a-vis free market economics, you're going to look like a real a-hole.

Written/Directed by Andy Cobb
Producer/DP: Mike Damanskis
Co-writer: Eric R. Pfeffinger


"The conservative mind has an amazing capacity for manufacturing reasons to reject disagreeable evidence."


Today's L.A. Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter:

Re “Silver's numbers racket,” Opinion, Nov. 6

I think what I like best about Nate Silver is that he is so often right.

Sorry, Jonah Goldberg, but Silver's battleground predictions were right on.

Clara Solis
Los Angeles


Silver's unusually accurate predictions are explained by his use of validated statistical methods.

He has come under attack for his disregard of momentum, gut feelings and the musings of pundits like Goldberg who are paid to promote their ideological viewpoints.

We rely on statistical models for many decisions every single day, including for weather forecasts, in medicine and in many complex systems in which there is an element of uncertainty in the outcome.

Indeed, these are the same methods by which scientists could predict, days in advance, that Superstorm Sandy was about to hit the United States.

The Goldberg piece is one of many whining complaints about Silver I've seen from conservative shills, all of them reminiscent of the recent ignorant attacks on the Bureau of Labor Statistics — not to mention the attacks on climate science.

Clearly, the conservative mind has an amazing capacity for manufacturing reasons to reject disagreeable evidence.

Michael K. Finnigan


So what are we to make of Silver's predictions, now that the election's an accomplished fact and Silver was exactly correct?

Goldberg's preferred right-wing statisticians seem to have missed the mark. As Goldberg pointed out for us: garbage in, garbage out.

But one thing old Jonah says is true: Those of us who do math on a daily basis do indeed have a deep faith in it. After all, it got us to the moon and back. It's the one thing you can actually prove.

Think Goldberg will ever concede his error?

Paul Ryan


Goldberg was right: We do go to Silver's blog to comfort ourselves. And the reason we're comforted is that Silver's analysis is sophisticated, rigorous and correct.

Jackie Flaskerud
San Diego


It was with resigned dismay that I read the latest anti-science diatribe by Goldberg regarding Silver's mathematical model for interpreting election polls.

Goldberg's article was typical of the current climate: If you don't agree with the scientific analysis, attack the messenger.

What Goldberg ignored was the fact that Silver gained nothing by “gaming” his model to support his chosen candidate; if Mitt Romney had won, then Silver's model would have been discredited and he would be back to peddling baseball statistics.

This head-in-the-sand view of science is not simply wrongheaded partisanship that exemplifies the moral and intellectual vacuum in which many of today's Republican pundits operate. In a world growing warmer by the day, it is downright dangerous.

Ken Wilton
Manhattan Beach


Nate Silver: Mitt Romney "has few chances to win unless the state polls are systematically wrong."


If it weren't for voter suppression and those damn voting machines, I'd be feeling pretty good. But being a worrier by nature, and also a realist, I am optimistic but still concerned about Republican dirty tricks.

Nate Silver, or as I like to call him, Nate the Great at FiveThirtyEight:

Mr. Obama continues to hold the lead in the vast majority of polls in Iowa, Nevada, Ohio and Wisconsin, the states that represent his path of least resistance toward winning the Electoral College. This was particularly apparent on Wednesday, a day when there were a remarkable number of polls, 27, released in the battleground states. [...]

[T]he polls in these states confirmed what we already knew: that Mr. Obama remains the favorite in the Electoral College... There are plenty of things that could go wrong, and sometimes they will. [...]

Mr. Romney’s chances of winning the Electoral College without Ohio — a prospect we had defended as being plausible beforeare looking more tenuous based on the most recent polling. [...]

... Mr. Romney has few chances to win unless the state polls are systematically wrong. I don’t mean for this to sound dismissive; the polling error could quite easily be correlated across the different states, and the national polls are one reason to be suspicious of the state polls.

But we’re at the point now where Mr. Obama may be a modest favorite even if the national polls are right. Two weeks ago, when Mr. Obama appeared to trail Mr. Romney by a point or so in the national polls, that would not have been the case.

There's much more at the link. Counting down until the GOP calls Nate a gay Kenyan terrorist in 5... 4... 3... 2...

By the way, here's the Princeton Election Consortium projection: