Psephologists

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 »

One Man Traffic Machine

Nate Silver’s approach has been vindicated and he is a one man traffic machine for the New York Times, watch this video as he explains the polls:

Nate Silver on Daily Show

Nate Silver has released his new book, and appeared on the Daily Show. Interesting to see the personality behind the blog.

Bounce for Obama, not for Romney

The evidence is mounting across all major pollsters plus with the poll of polls that RealClearPolitics runs and also from statistician Nate Silver that Romney did not get a poll bounce from his convention and that Obama has.

RealClearPolitics is showing all the polling and it is pretty much a sea of blue for the gains that Obama has made. The RCP Poll average Romney vs Obama is telling:

Nate Silver has been copping a bit of flack lately, as have I for publishing his analysis. People think he has loaded his model and that he should wait for more data before calling things. Nate explains why that isn’t going to work:

I’ve been picking up some sentiment from analysts and journalists in my Twitter feed recently, who correctly note that polling around the party conventions can be volatile. They suggest that we ought to wait for more data before concluding very much about the bounces that the conventions have produced.

I’d love to have more data. I’d love it if we had a dozen national tracking polls rather than four. I’d love it if we had a pollster who was spending tens of thousands of dollars to poll every single swing state every single day.

It’s also the case that we’ll know more about the state of the race in two weeks than we know now — and we’ll know more about in four weeks than we do in two.

But we publish our forecasts every day. The goal is to make what we hope is the most accurate possible forecast given the information available at that time.

Saying “wait for more data” sort of misses the point. What about the data that we have on hand already? Is it compelling enough to suggest that there has been some change in condition of the race? Or isn’t it?

I follow Nate because he is simply looking at the numbers…all of them…all the time. It isn;t about the politics it is just about the numbers. In some ways he is a freak…but it is just about the math for him. And that math isn;t good for Mitt Romney:

He has Obama with a 79.8% chance of winning and his Electoral College vote is resounding:

The popular vote appears close, but people forget that it is all about the Electoral College.

Nate Silver makes this observation:

Nevertheless, the polling movement that we have seen over the past three days represents the most substantial shift that we’ve seen in the race all year, with the polls moving toward Mr. Obama since his convention.

How far will Mr. Obama’s numbers rise, and how long will his bounce last? We don’t know that, of course. But the range of possible outcomes reads pretty favorably for him.

As I wrote on Saturday night, Mr. Obama’s polls could easily cool off quickly. If we return to the equilibrium where Mr. Obama is about two points ahead in the polls — about where they were for months on end heading into the conventions — then Mitt Romney’s position won’t be too badly damaged. Still, Mr. Romney will be the underdog, and he’ll have had two or three weeks of time run off the clock.

Or, if Mr. Obama’s bounce is more prolonged and more pronounced, Mr. Romney could be in pretty bad shape.

Our goal is not to err on the side of caution any more (or any less) than we think is warranted by the data. There is absolutely, positively the chance that we will jump too far ahead of the trend. I can all but guarantee you, in fact, that if we run these forecasts for enough years, there will be a few instances in which the model makes an aggressive move — and is totally and completely wrong about it.

Of course it ain’t over till it is over, but right now it is advantage Obama.