Nate Silver

Trump now has a path to victory ahead of the convention

Yesterday Donald Trump cleaned out 5 state primaries and pretty much hoovered up all available delegates.

He now sits on 950 delegates, just 287 short of the required 1237.

Nate Silver now has him ahead of predictions and now in with a shot of making the 1237 threshold:

Tuesday night went about as well as possible for Donald Trump.

Two weeks ago, after a rough stretch of states for Trump, we issued a series of delegate projections that included something called a “path-to-1,237” projection, a set of targets that would allow Trump to clinch a delegate majority without having to rely on uncommitted delegates. With Trump’s terrific results in New York last week and even better ones in the five states that voted on Tuesday, Trump is actually running a little ahead of the path-to-1,237.

Based on provisional results, it looks as though Trump will sweep every pledged delegate in Maryland (as a result of winning every congressional district), Connecticut (as a result of winning every congressional district and getting more than 50 percent of the vote statewide), Pennsylvania (where statewide delegates are awarded winner-take-all) and Delaware (ditto), along with 11 of 19 delegates in Rhode Island (which is highly proportional). Combined with the New York results,2 that gives Trump 200 delegates since we issued the path-to-1,237 projections, five delegates ahead of his original targets.

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Trump will need to win on first ballot

If the Republican nomination fails to reach the threshold for delegates before the convention then it will become a contested convention.

If that happens, and there is a good chance that it will then Donald Trump will need to win on the first ballot.

Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight explains:

If you really think the chance of a multi-ballot convention is 63 percent, but also still have Trump with a 56 percent chance of winning the nomination, that implies there’s a fairly good chance that Trump will win if voting goes beyond the first ballot. That’s probably wrong. If Trump doesn’t win on the first ballot, he’s probably screwed.

The basic reason is simple. Most of the 2,472 delegates with a vote in Cleveland probably aren’t going to like Trump.

Let’s back up a bit. In most of our discussions about delegates here at FiveThirtyEight, we treat them as though they’re some sort of statistical unit. We might say a candidate “racked up 44 delegates” in the same way we’d say Steph Curry scored 44 points. But those delegates aren’t just a scoring mechanism: Delegates are people, my friends. Delegates are people!

And as I said, they’re mostly people who aren’t going to like Trump, at least if the excellent reporting from Politico and other news organizations is right. (If Trump turns out to have more support among GOP delegates than this reporting suggests, even marginally, that could end up mattering a great deal.) How can that be? In most states, the process to select the men and women who will serve as delegates is separate from presidential balloting. In Massachusetts, for instance, Trump won 49 percent of the GOP vote on March 1 — his highest share in any state to date — to earn 22 of the state’s 42 delegates. But the people who will serve as delegates haven’t been chosen yet. That will happen at a series of congressional district conventions later this month and then a Republican state meeting in May or June. According to Politico, most of those delegates are liable to favor Ted Cruz or John Kasich rather than Trump. Twenty-two of them will still be bound to Trump on the first ballot, but they can switch after that. The same story holds in a lot of other states: in Georgia, Louisiana and South Carolina, for instance — also states that Trump won.   Read more »

Hacking the system: how Trump took the lead

Nate Silver writes at FiveThirtryEight about how Trump hacked the system.

As is usual with Nate Silver there is plenty of data and explanations before he gets to his conclusions:

Most of the media’s self-criticism of its Trump coverage has focused on whether Trump’s dominance of the news cycle reflects a craven desire for higher TV ratings or Web traffic numbers. It’s fine to debate that — although these criticisms are sometimes being evinced through crocodile tears given the record ratings and traffic Trump is bringing to news organizations of all kinds.12

But this critique avoids some thornier questions. For instance, with his ability to make news any time he wants with a tweet, news conference or conveniently placed leak, Trump has challenged news organizations’ editorial prerogative. Should the press cover a candidate differently when he makes trolling the media an explicit part of his strategy, on the theory that some coverage is almost always better than none?    Read more »

Trump’s path to victory

There are a great many people speculating on how Donald Trump can win.

I prefer data, which is why I read FiveThirtyEight for my information. Subscribers to INCITE: Politics will know that I recommend this site to everyone interested in knowing what is going on in US politics.

They explore the path to victory for Donald Trump, or at least get close enough to make a claim for him to be the candidate.

Some of their key points are:

harry (Harry Enten, senior political writer): My biggest takeaway is how on the knife’s edge this is going to be. We probably won’t know whether Trump is going to clear the 1,237 threshold until at least June. It’s March 21 — we have a long way to go.

dave (David Wasserman, House editor at the Cook Political Report and FiveThirtyEight contributor): First off, while we don’t know whether Trump will hit 1,237 or not, we should all be able to agree on one takeaway: For the first time in a very long time, every state will matter — and yeah, this thing’s going all the way to June. I don’t see any way for Trump to attain 1,237 untilJune 7, and I don’t see any realistic way for him to be mathematically eliminated from 1,237 before June 7.

natesilver (Nate Silver, editor in chief): When I was filling out my projections, I was a little bit surprised that I had Trump coming up short of 1,237 since I thought I was being fairly optimistic for him in individual states. However, once you account for the facts that (1) there are quite a few uncommitted delegates and (2) Trump isn’t likely to do so well in less populous states west of the Mississippi, which is a fair bit of what’s out there — well then, Trump has to do really well everywhere else.

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Is Sanders really ahead of Clinton?

There are many pundits, from the left-wing, crowing that Bernie Sanders is surging in the polls and has passed Hillary Clinton.

Apparently the donations have surged for Sanders after the news of the polls and Hillary Clinton attacking him for his donations.

But is he really in front? Let’s see what Nate Silver has to say. Remember, in last month’s INCITE:Politics we recommended his website for looking at the statistical analysis and probabilities of polling versus the guesses of the pundits.

First, you need to understand his methodology.

We launched our forecasts for the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primaries today. For much more detail about how this all works, you can read here. But our premise is that, given the challenges inherent in predicting the primaries, we’ll be publishing two models instead of pretending we’ve found a magic bullet:

  • The first model, which we call polls-only, is based only on polls from one particular state. (Iowa polls in the case of Iowa, for example.) It’s basically an updated version of the model we used for the primariesfour years ago.
  • The second model, polls-plus, also considers endorsements and national polls, in addition to state polls, and tries to consider the effect that Iowa and New Hampshire could have on subsequent state contests. (National polls aren’t necessarily a positive for a candidate in the polls-plus model; instead, it’s a bearish indicator when a candidate’s state polls trail his national numbers.)

Historically, polls-plus would have been somewhat more accurate, but it’s pretty close — so we think the models are most useful when looked at together.

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Fear and loathing in the media

Andrew Sullivan blogs about the knives shoved into Nate Silver’s back and why.

The part that resonates strongly with me is this:

[F]ear that his analysis could render moot some of the horse-race journalism that the NYT still does and does well. It’s a misplaced fear. Campaigns are narratives driven by human beings – no statistical analysis could begin to describe them adequately. There’s no reason the two approaches cannot work together and inform each other. But the pretensions and defensiveness of the old media guard seem to have made that a tough compromise to settle on – to the detriment of NYT readers.  Read more »

What Nate Silver leaving means for NY Times and why he left

I blogged about the news that Nate Silver was leaving NY Times and moving to ESPN.

Tech Republic writer Marc Tracy looks at what this all means…for the NY Times and for ESPN. The NY Times loses traffic…eyeballs, that came for Nate and stayed.

Silver was the Times news section’s most recognizable politics writer. As I reported last November, in the run-up to Election Day, one-fifth of visits to nytimes.com included stops at Silver’s 538 blog. In many cases, visitors arrived at the site by searching for him. “He has been a journalist of great value to the Times in this election,” executive editor Jill Abramson told me at the time. “What’s interesting is a lot of the traffic is coming just for Nate.” (Abramson declined to comment Saturday.)

So of course it is a “blow.” But it is at least worth noting that what Silver did was never the Times’ core competency when it comes to politics. And the sort of thing that Silver grew famous for condemning, in which cable-news prognosticators discuss “narratives” while disregarding the polls that sit right in front of them, is also not a good description of what Times politics coverage does best.    Read more »

Nate Silver leaves NY Times, takes his blog to ESPN

This is big news. Nate Silver has packed up his blog at NY Times and moved to ESPN. His traffic will go with him. That is the nature of blogs where personalities are followed not mastheads.

Nate Silver, famous for his eerily accurate election predictions, is dumping the Gray Lady for the network of Keith Olbermann. The math wizard is taking his FiveThirtyEight blog — which was a must-read during the 2012 presidential election — and jumping ship to ESPN, reports his former co-worker Brian Stelter in The Times. Silver will now write and crunch numbers for the sports network while also “most likely” contributing to Keith Olbermann’s new show, according to theTimes report. In what is a classic Times-ian understatement,  Stelter writes, “[Silver’s] departure will most likely be interpreted as a blow to the company.”

To which one might say: ya think?   Read more »

The bet is being paid today

restaurant011

In about 15 minutes I will be sitting down with Leighton Smith collecting my winnings from our bet last year.

Readers will remember that Leighton Smith and I made a bet on the outcome of the US presidential election, months ahead polling day. He said that Mitt Romney would win easily, and I said that though i wanted Romney to win I believed that he wouldn’t be able to do it and that Barack Obama would win a second term.

I based my opinions on the mathematical and statistical approach of Nate Silver.

As you all know Obama romped home and I won the bet.

The vagaries of holidays, overlapping commitments, timing and extraneous matters meant that this was the earliest we could do it.

Never let it be said that Leighton Smith doesn’t honour his bets.

I will post photos from the event later.

Nate Silver predicts win to 49ers in Superbowl

Nate Silver has predicted the San Francisco 49ers will the Superbowl…so far the silence is deafening from Karl Rove on what his guess may be:

Nate Silver, the famous poll expert for the New York Times who correctly called the U.S. presidential election for Barack Obama, has really gone out on a limb today, prognosticating that the San Francisco will win 49ers will likely win the Super Bowl.

“The reasons that exceptional defenses fare so much better in the Super Bowl are still somewhat murky, but this factor bodes well for this year’s 49ers, whose defense belongs in the elite group, according to S.R.S. (it ranks 17th among Super Bowl teams),” wrote Silver, in part.

The football team is the favorite already, so it’s not that much of a limb to crawl out on — and it’s also unlikely to attract as much controversy as Silver’s election calls that sent Republicans into a tizzy.  Read more »