I’ve always said this election is harder to pick than a broken nose and it looks like Nate’s nose is well broken.
Polling averages and forecast models are supposed to bring order to the chaos, put outlier polls in proper perspective and provide a sober, unbiased picture of the state of the presidential race.
So why are they all over the place in the final days, with some models asserting a Hillary Clinton victory is a near-certainty, and others giving Donald Trump a real chance at winning?
The dissonance has resulted in fundamental disagreements over how close the race really is in a presidential election that both parties have described, in no uncertain terms, as the most important election in our lifetimes.
The latest RealClearPolitics projections have the race teetering on a knife’s edge. But other, more complex forecast models — based on the same polls — give Clinton a 98 percent or 99 percent chance of defeating Trump next Tuesday.
This is why you need people to trust. People who have delivered extraordinary accuracy in the past.
“If you have a model based on public polling, it ought to do a good job of reflecting the public polling as the data comes in, or it might be doing something wrong,” FiveThirtyEight editor in chief Nate Silver told POLITICO in an email. “Our forecast — with Clinton as about a two-to-one favorite — seems both empirically and intuitively consistent with public polling that mostly puts her ahead, but with a lot of volatility and a lot of disagreement and a ton of undecided voters (and a rather leaky Electoral College firewall for Clinton, such as in New Hampshire). Betting markets and financial markets — people putting money on the line — have also tracked 538’s forecasts much more closely than the other models.”
By the time people put their money behind it, they really show confidence in those particular polls.
The FiveThirtyEight model showed Clinton’s win-probability slipping nearly 22 points from its October high. Silver said that better reflects the volatility in the race — both in the most recent swing in the polls toward Trump, along with the significant number of voters still undecided or lining up behind minor-party candidates.
“[E]verything depends on one’s assumptions, but I think that our assumptions — a Clinton lead, sure, but high uncertainty — has repeatedly been validated by the evidence we’ve seen over the course of the past several months,” Silver said. “The idea that she’s a prohibitive, 95 percent-plus favorite is hard to square with polling that has frequently shown 5- or 6-point swings within the span of a couple weeks, given that she only leads by 3 points or so now.”
Still winning. But not locked in.
Nate’s not prepared to categorically state an outcome. Staying professional and running numbers. There is no wishful thinking. There is no agenda. It’s just where the data takes him.
And that’s put him ahead of the others in the past.
It is why he’s worth following now.