Nate Silver Read the Political Statistical Tea Leaves Perfectly! How’d He Do It?

I was feeling Blue when President Obama was soundly trounced by Romney in the first debate, in Denver. The polls flip-flopped over night, blue morphs to purple, drowning in a sea of red paint! A friend, Cathy Criss, said it will be alright, read Nate Silver’s blog Five Thirty-Eight (New York Times).

Since that day, I’ve been reading every one of Nate’s posts as if I’m reading the words (and figures) of the New Testament. I sensed all along, not all of Nate’s predictions and arguments were driven by cold, raw, statistical data; some of this had a intuitive, spiritual quality, or even contained a news driven factor (worthy for consideration).

Has Nate Silver Reinvented Political Stats?

We might boldly state political statistical analysis has been reinvented by Nate Silver. Reading each of his posts (easily, five or six times) over the past 5 or 6 weeks has been comforting, when watching the dueling campaigns, and sensing Romney was getting an upper hand. I was hitting Real Clear Politics at least 20 times a day; yet, I was seeing conflicts with Nate’s analysis, which in my case, made me feel better.

nate silver

Silver’s model was more complicated and razor-sharp. Thus, I gave it more weight; not because it favored Obama, but rather since it qualified the polls with any breaking news that was hitting the wires, that would point the needle in a new direction.

By the time the polls are published, so much has changed, they are yesterday’s news almost immediately. The mood of the electorate fluctuates several times each day. This is another reason for appreciating what Nate Silver does; his posts factor in mood changing news that can shift the stats ever so gently, but just enough to change the outcome of the election. Nate’s final 3 posts predicted a small break for Obama, which was spot on to what actually happened on Tuesday. I’d say, it was perfect!

Real Clear Politics Wrong On Florida

Real Clear Politics got it wrong on Florida. I predicted Florida would go baby blue, and I was right. Latest stats: 4,143,362 Obama, 4,096,346 Romney. That’s a 47,016 victory for Obama. This will change somewhat, but I understand 100% of the vote is in. 49.9 – 49.3 = .6 % margin for Obama. Reason: Turn out was good! People stayed in line and voted, to spite Rick Scott! Latinos and African Americans came out and voted. 50,000 chose activism over apathy, and won the day for (light) blue in The Sunshine State!

Nate helped to firm up my belief Obama would win in Florida, in spite of the naysayers, who said Romney had the ‘banana peninsula’ in his (crimson) pocket. I studied the demographics in Florida; Latino populations have increased there, and they were going to vote for Obama. Immigration is the key issue with Latinos; this is the statistical reality for why Romney lost Florida. Silver has consistently factored out Gallup and Rasmussen, who have proven to be flawed. They provided the Achilles Heel for RCP’s wrong calls.

In the final days, Nate saw them as outliers against an aggregate of polls, breaking for Obama in the battleground states. I agreed with him, but only after looking at other sources, which would include breaking news (Sandy or say, the sleazy Chrysler/Jeep ads, or the ridiculous Chavez/Castro/Che garbage), or specific demographics for counties in one shifting battleground state. I know Nate does this also, balancing statistical mathematics with the calculus of probability, which is subject to instantaneous metamorphosis.

Art, Not Science, Wins The Day

This is why what Nate does is an Art rather than a Science. The only call I missed was North Carolina, but my successful predictions were largely due to my careful examination of Nate Silver’s Five Thirty-Eight posts. Nobody knows exactly what he’s up to, and he should keep it there. The underbrush ‘neath polls is thick, and one could get stuck in uncompromising mud, which is what happened to the Romney people.