Forecasting Tuesday

Friday, November 02, 2012


Less than a week before the election, many observers across the political spectrum say that they believe a victory for President Obama is highly likely. Others say that it's reckless to predict the future with any kind of certainty. Nate Silver of the New York Times FiveThirtyEight blog explains to Brooke the difference between forecasting and fortune-telling, and defends his belief that an Obama win seems probable. 

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Nate Silver

Hosted by:

Brooke Gladstone

Comments [7]

Charlie from Saratoga

"Obamacare is the law of the nation". Obama didn't sweep the electoral college as widely as in 2008, but there were people who actually believed that Romney would win, like McCain and Palin would win. I know people who would vote for anyone the character of Jeffrey Dahmer if he had been on the Republican ballot, whenever. I am loathe to predict the future, and I don't gamble. I wouldn't wager a dollar in a casino in Singapore, and not in any of Sheldon Adelson's casinos in Vegas or Macao, either. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney, his sympathizers and his contributors are in shell-shock.

Nov. 10 2012 04:14 PM

@David from New York, New York

Still waiting? How faithful are you?

Nov. 08 2012 03:32 PM
Jacques from Singapore

Nate Silver is a wily punter to offer Joe Scarborough even odds on a $1000 bet that Scarbororough only claims to think he has a 50% chance at winning. It would have been more sporting of him, though, to split the difference on the odds they each stand behind. I wonder if Silver would be willing to offer Scarborough 4-1 odds on that bet. Probably not--at least until the odds favor his position 10-1;-p

Nov. 05 2012 08:45 AM
David from New York, New York

Good Grief! Nate Silver on a WNYC show again?????? The reason you guys keep inviting him on your shows is because you are all in the can for the President's re-election and you want to hear him reinforce what you desperately want to happen on Tuesday. Can't wait to see Romney obliterate Nate's predictions on the race and Romney is elected the 45th President of the United States.

Nov. 04 2012 10:34 AM
Thatwood B. Telling from The Village

The reason Scarborough and the rest of the establishment media portray the race as closer than it is should be obvious: they get more attention when commenting on a race that's supposedly neck-and-neck than they would if one or the other candidate were leading comfortably. What's exciting about comfort? Nothing.

Nate Silver and others (notably, who compile and analyze polling conducted on a state-by-state basis either bypass completely or at least downplay the meaningless national polls which show snapshots of the popular vote. U.S. presidents haven't been elected on the basis of the popular vote since ... oh, that's right. Never. But relying on the electoral tally to show how the race is shaping up for the candidates might well show one of them in a fairly comfortable position, and we wouldn't want that now, would we?

Of course, there's sometimes another reason for falsely depicting a close race: you discourage complacency among your readers/listeners/viewers and motivate them to vote and/or help out on the campaign your media outlet is supporting. This may not be a factor for newspapers whose readers' support is evenly split between the candidates. But for a paper like the Times, making the race look tight when it's not might well mobilize thousands of Obama supporters and cement a victory. Because no matter how far out in front your guy may be, you can't be *too* sure.

Nov. 03 2012 11:29 PM

I completely ignore all articles and opinions about the horse race, and I hang up on pollsters. To me, these polls and predictions are as valid and interesting as watching somebody flip a coin for weeks on end.

For the love of God, can't we just VOTE and be done with it?!?

Nov. 03 2012 11:53 AM
NSNY from Bklyn

My understanding is that they haven't been calling people with cell phones. I haven't received a single campaign call, and neither have any friends who are cell phone only. Grant it, we're in NYC. But if this is true, they have not accounted for the youth, Gen X and Gen Y votes, which all skew Dem.

Nov. 02 2012 08:24 PM

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