Nate Silver was 100% right

Picking a public fight with Nate Silver about his model demonstrated poor judgment by the right. Nate Silver’s model predicted 50 out of the 50 states. Realclearpolitics polling average got one state (Florida) wrong. In 2008 Nate Silver got 49/50 states right while the polling average got 48/50 states right.

Nate Silver over-predicted Obama’s national vote only marginally. Nate Silver predicted Obama would get 50.8%; currently Obama is getting 50.5%. Who knows, maybe when all ballots are counted Silver will be proven exactly right about this too. In the Senate he was only wrong by 0.5 seats (with a pro-Republican, not pro-Democrat bias).

When Nate Silver’s model was criticized, Paul Krugman become hysterical and wrote “This is really scary. It means that if these people triumph, science — or any kind of scholarship — will become impossible.” This is silly, obviously part of social science is discussing behavioral models and their assumptions. The model is then tested against reality.

Nate Silvers model did a fantastic job against reality in the 2008 election and the harder to predict 2012 election. The only time Silver’s model did not do a great job was the 2010 election. Silver predicted Democrats would keep the house in the summer, and only gave republicans a 30% chance of taking the house with a 60-seat margin, which they ultimately did.

By scientific standards Nate Silver has grown in stature in my book while his Republican critics have shrunk.   

The only significant pollster on the right I know of who predicted 49 out of the 50 states was American Enterprise Institute Henry Olsen. I recommend you read his article in full. The most prophetic passage is:

“Win or lose, we are in the twilight of the Age of Reagan. Romney’s efforts have almost recreated the Reagan coalition, but in today’s America that is no longer enough.”

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