November 5, 2012

"Those who emphasize 'objective' political facts at the expense of 'subjective' values have strained out the soul and significance of politics."

"It is an approach, in the words of G.K. Chesterton, 'that stores the sand and lets the gold go free.'"

Says Michael Gerson, in another one of those Nate-Silver-is-wrong columns.
The problem with the current fashion for polls and statistics is that it changes what it purports to study. Instead of making political analysis more “objective,” it has driven the entire political class — pundits, reporters, campaigns, the public — toward an obsessive emphasis on data and technique. Quantification has also resulted in miniaturization. In politics, unlike physics, you can only measure what matters least.
Is your soul weary of all these polls? Do you somehow know something in your subjective, intuitive guts that is never measured in Mr. Silver's algorithm?

113 comments:

Nonapod said...

Feelings don't come into it. For a number of reasons the polls simply don't reflect reality. For example: The final CNN poll that has the race dead even used a +11 Dem sample.

leslyn said...

Is this code for "put religion backing politics?"

Troubled Voter said...

I can't wait to see the shock in the comments when the gut feeling proves wrong and the reality turns out to be what most sane people thought it would be, that the country found romney such an objectionable alternative to obama that they didn't choose him given the circumstances.

Lem said...

Do you somehow know something in your subjective, intuitive guts that is never measured in Mr. Silver's algorithm?

The number of Romney/Obama signs along rh's route.

Writ Small said...

My "gut" tells me tomorrow is Mr. Romney's day. Two Democratic family members who voted for Obama enthusiastically last time are sitting this election out. Conservative family members are palpably excited. Subjective elements point to Romney.

Unfortunately, the polls tell another story: 300+ EV's for Obama. I so hope my gut wins over my head.

BTDGreg said...

What's interesting about this is that it's the exact same criticism that people make against Sabermetrics in baseball--which is Silver's background.

leslyn said...

Shit. "back in."

BTDGreg said...

What's interesting about this is that it's the exact same criticism that people make against Sabermetrics in baseball--which is Silver's background.

Freder Frederson said...

Truthiness!

BarrySanders20 said...

Right-- enough with the numbers.

My gut says the majority of the country now realizes Obama is incompetent and will not reelect him.

My bunghole is puckered up because it does not believe my gut and faces more immediate risks if the gut is wrong.

My wallet agrees with my bunghole, because it senses risk as well.

I only get one vote, so I'll go with my gut, but I'm worried that the objective factifiers like High-Ho Silver have this one mapped out correctly.

Tank said...

Well, my gut is usually wrong on these things, but I know that so much talk about polls creates a horserace mentality, taking away time that could be spent discussing the real mind-numbing issues facing this country, many of which were barely mentioned during the entire election cycle, notwithstanding neverending blah, blah, blah.

Freder Frederson said...

What are you all going to do, or claim, if the polls, and Silver, turn out to be right? Forget all about your bitching.

I will admit there is an outside chance that all the statistics are wrong and Romney may eke out a win. But the Dick Morrises of the world are dead wrong.

garage mahal said...

Romney is leaking out-of-consensus internal polls the day before the election. Which, as we know, is the hallmark of a confident, winning campaign.

Bwahaha.

Really curious what the back biting will look like Wednesday.

Rusty said...

Lem said...
Do you somehow know something in your subjective, intuitive guts that is never measured in Mr. Silver's algorithm?


The 2010 election.

K in Colorado said...

I'm the only Republican in a family of hard core union Democrats. My elderly mother, who has NEVER voted Republican in her life is not going to vote for Obama. She's not sure if she can actually vote for Romney, but anyone not voting for Obama will help make the vote total spread bigger.

Also, my wife has several friends who are teacher union members in Ohio. They are all voting for Romney this time.

bagoh20 said...

Nate Silver is a perfect example of the left's idea of "science".

gerry said...

I only get one vote, so I'll go with my gut, but I'm worried that the objective factifiers like High-Ho Silver have this one mapped out correctly.

Not a chance. Read Bob Krumm for an experienced analysis of polling (the link is to one article at his site; read others).

Also please take a look at Jay Cost, who has done admirable work for years.

Finally, know that Silver was way off in 2010. His system is not infallible, especially in an age of interstate area codes (cell phones).

leslyn said...

And I think Tank's avatar is vicious and, of course, VIOLENT--but Althouse likes those things as long as she likes you.

Lem said...

Oh yea..

I posted that this morning...

Ann Althouse said...

@Freder Remember the recall elections where the polls had Walker 5 points ahead and the media cautioned us with such enthusiasm: It's too close to call!

If either candidate wins by as small margin, the polls will be proved right.

My observation of the entire scene tells me Romney will have a decisive win.

If I'm wrong I'm wrong. Why would that be a big deal?

But if I'm right, come back and laud my wisdom, okay?

Ann Althouse said...

@Freder Remember the recall elections where the polls had Walker 5 points ahead and the media cautioned us with such enthusiasm: It's too close to call!

If either candidate wins by as small margin, the polls will be proved right.

My observation of the entire scene tells me Romney will have a decisive win.

If I'm wrong I'm wrong. Why would that be a big deal?

But if I'm right, come back and laud my wisdom, okay?

Mutaman said...

"Do you somehow know something in your subjective, intuitive guts that is never measured in Mr. Silver's algorithm?"

As usual Ann doesn't know what she's talking about. Silver incorporates Intrade, Betfair, and the level of the Dow, all of which reflect what people feel in "their subjective, intuitive guts", a feeling they back up with their cash?

Ignorance is Bliss said...

What's interesting about this is that it's the exact same criticism that people make against Sabermetrics in baseball--which is Silver's background.

And that would be an applicable comparison if a player's On Base Percentage ( as well as all other stats ) was based, not on all of their at-bats, but on a 9% subset that agreed to respond to the poll.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I agree with BarrySanders20's bunghole.

bagoh20 said...

"What are you all going to do, or claim, if the polls, and Silver, turn out to be right?"

Even if Obama wins, it's hard to understand how Silver could predict it to be a virtual certainty. There will be no way to prove Silver was wrong if Obama wins. So if Obama wins, there is nothing much to say about Silver. If the polls are right, then he had a better than 50/50 chance of getting that right.

But, if Obama loses then Silver was not just wrong, but incredibly ridiculously wrong. So the question is what will YOU say about Silver if that happens?

chickelit said...

Silver is the most electrically conductive element--it's also highly malleable and ductile.

Freder Frederson said...

Finally, know that Silver was way off in 2010. His system is not infallible, especially in an age of interstate area codes (cell phones).

And what is your definition of "way off"? It must be pretty strange.

Beorn said...

Nate Silver is a perfect example of the left's idea of "science".

Exactly. Here are the steps:

1. Determine desired outcome
2. Construct model to achieve desired outcome
3. Gather data favorable to desired outcome
4. Minimize or discard data hostile to desired outcome
5. Publish findings
6. Receive prize from like-minded people
7. Label those who disagree with you backward and unscientific.

GIGO now stands for "Garbage In, Gold Out" for the high priests of progressive alchemy.

gmama3 said...

I don't know much about Mr. Silver's methodology in baseball, but I am assuming he gets more than 9% of baseball stats as self reported by players with which to set his odds.

That is my main reason for distrusting the polls. We know what 9% of people likely to allow them selves to be polled, adjusted for turnout, which has fluctuated by several points in the last few elections.

Perhaps Clint Eastwood's movie "Trouble with the Curve" is relevant here.

K in Colorado said...

If you want to talk models, take a look at CU-Boulder's election forecast model prediction. They have been pretty accurate, and they still predict Romney to win.

While many election forecast models are based on the popular vote, the model developed by Bickers and Berry is based on the Electoral College and is the only one of its type to include more than one state-level measure of economic conditions. They included economic data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Given that Boulder is like Madison or Ann Arbor, these guys appear to have NOT tweaked their model to give them the result that would make Boulder happy.

Freder Frederson said...

But, if Obama loses then Silver was not just wrong, but incredibly ridiculously wrong.

According to Silver, Romney has a one in five chance of winning. Not good odds, but neither does it constitute a "virtual certainty" that Obama wins.

campy said...

My elderly mother, who has NEVER voted Republican in her life is not going to vote for Obama.

Her vote will be counted for Him anyway.

bagoh20 said...

"And I think Tank's avatar is vicious and, of course, VIOLENT"

As a taxpayer, I think that's the intended point. At least you get it. That's a big step for you. Congrats.

K in Colorado said...

Wow, I actually got a response to a comment. I am both glad and humble to part of the Althouse blogging universe. :) :)

Bryan C said...

"What are you all going to do, or claim, if the polls, and Silver, turn out to be right? Forget all about your bitching."

I'm going to conclude that they simply got lucky. They're like those fools who wander around in dark houses eavesdropping on imaginary ghosts with tape recorders. Their methodologies attempt to derive data from amplified background noise and feedback.

Drago said...

garage mahal said...
Romney is leaking out-of-consensus internal polls the day before the election. Which, as we know, is the hallmark of a confident, winning campaign.

Some lefty drones never get the message....

http://www.politico.com/blogs/burns-haberman/2012/10/burton-email-obama-leads-priorities-usa-swingstate-147609.html

AF said...

Trust your gut to tell you who you should vote for.

Trust the polls to tell you who is likely to win.

Learn to tell the difference between those two things.

Freder Frederson said...

Exactly. Here are the steps:

And the steps you are following differ how. Your analysis seems to be:

1. Determine my preferred outcome.
2. Ignore, ridicule, and/or accuse of bias any evidence that contradicts my preferred outcome.

dreams said...

"Is your soul weary of all these polls? Do you somehow know something in your subjective, intuitive guts that is never measured in Mr. Silver's algorithm?"

In a word, yes.

leslyn said...

Romney is now "Him"? We've gone a long way down that road to theo-democracy.

AF said...

"Do you somehow know something in your subjective, intuitive guts that is never measured in Mr. Silver's algorithm?"

I know a lot of things that aren't measured in Silver's algorithm. However, the likely outcome of the election is not one of them.

jimspice said...

"Nate Silver is a perfect example of the left's idea of 'science.'"

Um, no. Science is an endeavor to test a theory. It's an act of observation, explanation and prediction in a general sense. At best, Silver observes. He does not explain or predict. His "now-casting" acknowledges that poll data is a snapshot and does NOT apply to all conditions across time which theory must do. At best you describe him as a measurer, but NOT a scientist.

Bryan C said...

"According to Silver, Romney has a one in five chance of winning. Not good odds, but neither does it constitute a "virtual certainty" that Obama wins."

Please provide an example of an outcome which would, in your view, definitively falsify Silver's methods.

garage mahal said...

Here is an average from PredictWise, summarizing Betfair, Intrade and IEM.

But don't worry, conservative pundits calling for a Romney landslide will not suffer socially or professionally in any way. They fail upwards. Always.

dreams said...

I think we should all be aware or remember that Nate Silver is a former daily kos blogger.

bagoh20 said...

"Not good odds, but neither does it constitute a "virtual certainty" that Obama wins."

What do you call an 86.3% chance? If you are predicting that, and you are wrong, then you screwed up big time, and not just a miscalculation. There is something deeply flawed with your whole methodology. Would you ever take such a person's opinion serious again?

From Inwood said...

BTDGreg @2:57

No one of the undereducated political reporters who drool over Silver, mention any of the, er, misses in BB's Sabermetrics.

For instance re Baltimore catcher Wieters (OK Silver was Heigh Ho at this point)

Accordung to Dan McLaughlin:

Baseball Prospectus.com’s PECOTA player projection system – designed by Nate Silver and his colleagues at BP – is one of the best state-of-the-art systems in the business. But one of PECOTA’s more recent, well-known failures presents an object lesson. In 2009, PECOTA projected rookie Orioles catcher Matt Wieters' [stats]... this [was]just a probabilistic projection of his most likely performance, and the actual projection provided a range of possible outcomes. But the projection clearly was wrong, and not just unsuccessful…What went wrong? ...systems like PECOTA are supposed to adjust [minor league]numbers downward for the difference in the level of competition... PECOTA got the projection wrong, a projection that was out of step with what other models were much more realistically projecting at the time. The sophistication of the PECOTA system was no match for two bad inputs in the historical data."

deborah said...

BarrySanders20's bunghole speaks with an air of truth.

Drago said...

AF: "I know a lot of things that aren't measured in Silver's algorithm."

Silver doesn't "measure" things.

Silver looks at other "things" (polls) and then puts his finger in the air decides how "correct" each of those "things" is and then weights them accordingly.

Lem said...

If you read Nate Silver Nov 2nd post, you will read how he plans to explain the Obama loss..

Down in the 4th paragraph...

Instead, Mr. Romney will have to hope that the coin [tossup states] isn't fair, and instead has been weighted to Mr. Obama’s advantage. In other words, he’ll have to hope that the polls have been biased in Mr. Obama’s favor.

and then further down...

That leaves only the final source of polling error, which is the potential that the polls might simply have been wrong all along because of statistical bias.

but then...

To be exceptionally clear: I do not mean to imply that the polls are biased in Mr. Obama’s favor. But there is the chance that they could be biased in either direction.

so then...

My argument, rather, is this: we’ve about reached the point where if Mr. Romney wins, it can only be because the polls have been biased against him. Almost all of the chance that Mr. Romney has in the FiveThirtyEight forecast, about 16 percent to win the Electoral College, reflects this possibility.

Yes, of course: most of the arguments that the polls are necessarily biased against Mr. Romney reflect little more than wishful thinking.


Tomorrow cannot come soon enough.

Lem said...

If you read Nate Silver Nov 2nd post, you will read how he plans to explain the Obama loss..

Down in the 4th paragraph...

Instead, Mr. Romney will have to hope that the coin [tossup states] isn't fair, and instead has been weighted to Mr. Obama’s advantage. In other words, he’ll have to hope that the polls have been biased in Mr. Obama’s favor.

and then further down...

That leaves only the final source of polling error, which is the potential that the polls might simply have been wrong all along because of statistical bias.

but then...

To be exceptionally clear: I do not mean to imply that the polls are biased in Mr. Obama’s favor. But there is the chance that they could be biased in either direction.

so then...

My argument, rather, is this: we’ve about reached the point where if Mr. Romney wins, it can only be because the polls have been biased against him. Almost all of the chance that Mr. Romney has in the FiveThirtyEight forecast, about 16 percent to win the Electoral College, reflects this possibility.

Yes, of course: most of the arguments that the polls are necessarily biased against Mr. Romney reflect little more than wishful thinking.


Tomorrow cannot come soon enough.

X said...

And I think Tank's avatar is vicious and, of course, VIOLENT

gotta agree with you dummy, and of course that is the point, that socialism is violence, and of course you don't get it.

BarrySanders20 said...

AF,

Exactly. That's why by bunghole is puckered -- it fears the poll.

Drago said...

X: "....and of course you don't get it."

Oh, Leslyn gets it alright. Leslyn knows perfectly well that the Government takes what it will by implied force (violence/Jail time) via taxes/fee's.

What Leslyn doesn't like is when you point that out.

AF said...

Silver doesn't "measure" things.

Silver looks at other "things" (polls) and then puts his finger in the air decides how "correct" each of those "things" is and then weights them accordingly.


I was using Althouse's word, "measured."

If you don't like Silver's method of weighting polls, take a simple average like RCP. You get the same result. Obama has small, yet robust and persistent, leads in more than enough states to win the electoral college. Unless the polls are systematically biased in ways that has not occurred recent memory, Obama will win.

MCO said...

Gerson misidentifies a very real problem. The real issue is that most political analysis anymore only covers the horse race, and not enough time is spent trying to understand the horses. This has the effect of focusing attention on playing the game in such a way as to move the pollster's needle instead of giving adequate attention to matters of policy, competence, and character. This has nothing to do with objectivity and subjectivity, and everything to do with the proper focus of the electorate and of those that inform the same.

bagoh20 said...

" Silver observes. He does not explain or predict."

WTF?

dreams said...

If Althouse is proven correct that Romney wins decisively, then I would be in such a magnanimous mood I might even forgive her for her 2008 Obama vote.

Drago said...

AF: "Unless the polls are systematically biased in ways that has not occurred recent memory, Obama will win."

LOL

D+11.

Uh huh.

Gee that sounds reasonable.........not.

LOL

SteveR said...

We are all guilty of wishful thinking and Silver is fool's gold for the Obama faithful. Understandable but whoever wins won't prove his model right or wrong.

As of today I am confident of a Romney victory and don't care by how much. Too many signs point that way.

Freeman Hunt said...

Do you somehow know something in your subjective, intuitive guts that is never measured in Mr. Silver's algorithm?

Yes, and that is that the broad obsession about Silver's algorithm is weird. What does it matter? I see references to it (pro and con) all over the place. Silly.

I don't see the point in bothering about anyone's poll analyzing system. We'll have the election, and that will be that, regardless of polls or predictions.

I think Romney will win. My prediction system in this case is Optimism.

bagoh20 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Darrell said...

Remember, research over the last thirty years has shown that Democrats need to see a lead in the polls else they stay home. They also enjoy piling on, so expect a replay of Kos' 2004 trick where he gets journalists to announce that Obama is running away with the early voting tomorrow. Expect more lies like the Ohio coverage that was trying to claim that Obama is "blowing up" early vote totals (reality shows a big decline from 2008).

BarrySanders20 said...

"What do you call an 86.3% chance? If you are predicting that, and you are wrong, then you screwed up big time, and not just a miscalculation."

I don't fault Silver for this. His prediction is is no different than a horserace with 9-1 odds, or a football team that is projected to beat an opponent 9 out of 10 times. If the horse wins, or the underdog team wins, that does not mean the wrong horse/team won, but the oddsmakers thought it was unlikely before the event occurred. Silver's setting the odds based on his analysis of the data he thinks is relevant.

You know things like track surface, track conditions, jockey, trainer, length of race. These favor Obama because he's younger than Romney. But he throws like a girl, so Romney has 1 chance in 10.

Beorn said...

@Fred And the steps you are following differ how

To begin with, any poll that models Democrats outnumbering Republicans by 5% or more are probably unrealistic since party affiliation is about even in 2012. In the 2008 election, Dems outnumbered Reps by a 7% margin, which was "coincidentally" also the margin of party affiliation at the time.

Secondly, it is interesting that the poll numbers that cannot be massaged are the Independents, which are breaking for Romney by anywhere from 10% - 20%.

Also, is there any doubt the Paul Krugman's prediction of an Obama blowout is anything but naked political hackery? It makes one wonder how his theories would survive in the real world if he were to actually run a real business.

If you still want to cling to the Silver methodology, be my guest. But my hunch is that you will be sorely disappointed within the next 48 hours.

jimspice said...

He does not explain or predict in that he is not testing theoretical hypotheses, he is calling one race at one point in time. A theory makes claims about ALL races across time. The only claim Silver makes is that a race tomorrow may be predicted best by a poll today.

Pettifogger said...

I certainly hope, but I don't pretend to know the outcome.

What I do know is that, if Obama wins, America as America is finished. We will be a poorer France, because we are spending money faster than they. And France itself is sliding downward, but I am highly confident that Obama can make us slide faster.

dreams said...

If Romney wins decisively, I might be tempted to crow and engage in some unsportsmanlike conduct. Mostly likely I'll just be glad.

AF said...

The irony here is that Mitt Romney's claim to fame as a businessman was trusting data rather than his gut.

Freder Frederson said...

Please provide an example of an outcome which would, in your view, definitively falsify Silver's methods.

If Dick Morris is right.

Conserve Liberty said...

The scientific prediction method Mean Variance Optimization (the basis for Asset Allocation to manage investment risk) was supposed to allow people to invest with complete confidence that there could be no negative outcome - that all financial plans would be realized, kum bay yah and all that. It is the same methodology used by Nate Silver to make his projections.

Unfortunately many purveyors of investment advice - scientists of statistical analysis (and I am one of them myself) forgot to tell their customers three things (though I didn't):

1. These projections are accurate when averaged over periods of 40 years and longer, but are not predictive of any one year along the way.
2. Each prediction, even when projected 40 years out, has an "error rate," i.e. it is a predicted return, plus or minus some other amount, that becomes millions of dollars of potential error when compunded over 40 years.
3. The predicted return is only expected to be within even those loose bounds 95% of the time (2 standard deviations). The other 5% of the time we expect actual returns to be significantly above or below the expected return. 2007-2009 was merely an example of the forecasted expected, but unlikely tail outcome.

The above is SCIENCE - just as Nate Silver is SCIENCE. IOW it has little utility for predicting any single-point event.

Your gut and common sense observation are actually better predictors than probability analysis.

My gut tells me there's a 75% likelihood Romney gets more then the margin of fraud in enough states to win 271 or more Electors - but how does one scientifically analyze the propensity to commit fraud?

George said...

Just remember that Silver and a bunch of sabermatricians once thought the path to the World Series was through a bunch of fat guys who walked and hit home runs and thought Brian Sabean was an idiot.

Bruce Hayden said...

Gerson misidentifies a very real problem. The real issue is that most political analysis anymore only covers the horse race, and not enough time is spent trying to understand the horses. This has the effect of focusing attention on playing the game in such a way as to move the pollster's needle instead of giving adequate attention to matters of policy, competence, and character.

Interesting point. A client of mine is really into horses (and I try to patent her creations for them). She recently went to the track for the first time in a long time, and went down to see the horses. She then bet based on what she saw of the health of the horses (figuring that their records were figured into the odds already), and mostly won as a result. She could tell, as probably could many who spend a lot of time around horses, which ones were hurting and which ones were really ready to run.

Revenant said...

Do you somehow know something in your subjective, intuitive guts that is never measured in Mr. Silver's algorithm?

I was under the impression his algorithm wasn't publicly known.

Freder Frederson said...

but how does one scientifically analyze the propensity to commit fraud?

By providing some evidence of fraud other than your paranoia.

dreams said...

Romney reminds me of another optimistic happy warrior Republican who fortunately for us was there when he was needed, Ronald Reagan. Now, I think we need Mitt Romney.

KLDAVIS said...

Sabermetrics/PECOTA is a neat story, but it doesn't really work...or, to put it more precisely, to the extent it does work, it's effect is almost instantly absorbed/diluted.

Did anyone actually read/watch Moneyball? The Athletics had a couple good seasons, but they never won the big one, and were back where they started a couple years later.

TL;DR - Nate's a one-hit wonder.

KLDAVIS said...

Sabermetrics/PECOTA is a neat story, but it doesn't really work...or, to put it more precisely, to the extent it does work, it's effect is almost instantly absorbed/diluted.

Did anyone actually read/watch Moneyball? The Athletics had a couple good seasons, but they never won the big one, and were back where they started a couple years later.

TL;DR - Nate's a one-hit wonder.

Drago said...

AF: "The irony here is that Mitt Romney's claim to fame as a businessman was trusting data rather than his gut."

Your understanding of the "quant" side of business probably leaves much to be desired.

Romney's business performance is proven and verifiable, as the current head (and large obama bundler) of Bain could tell you.

What is not "proven" and what is not by any stretch "verifiable" is silvers "method".

The fact that silver was provided obama's real internal polling numbers in 2008 (which silver used without attribution) might make you think he's some kind of savant, but really all it makes him is someone who got to see what the real pollsters were doing in the back room.

To believe the majority of MSM polls in 2012, you have to believe that obama will receive MORE support than he received in 2008.

It's really that simple.

Either obama is on track to receive more support than 2008 and he wins, or he won't receive as much support as in 2008 and he will probably lose.

The good news is tomorrow we'll all know the answer.

chickelit said...

dreams said...
Romney reminds me of another optimistic happy warrior Republican who fortunately for us was there when he was needed, Ronald Reagan.

What happened to the meme that Obama was the Dem's Reagan?

rehajm said...

...that the broad obsession about Silver's algorithm is weird. What does it matter? I see references to it (pro and con) all over the place. Silly

This. Step away from your computers you pasty white geeks and go outside and try to kiss a girl or something.

chickelit said...

I was under the impression his algorithm wasn't publicly known.

Silver's algorithm rhymes with 2000: link

Hagar said...

For liberal arts majors numbers are magical things, and besides, they provide an excuse for not thinking about the issues and the consequences of "fair" policies.

deborah said...

"Tomorrow cannot come soon enough."


Amen. Thanks for the highlights of that article.

Freder Frederson said...

To believe the majority of MSM polls in 2012, you have to believe that obama will receive MORE support than he received in 2008.

Huh? Where on earth did you dig up this "fact"? The monkeys flying out of your butt are completely deluded

Gabriel Hanna said...

Polls are reliable to the extent that their prior assumptions are valid. It is not science-denying to point this out. Polling is not a magical ritual that produces scientific truth.

What is science-denying would be to say that all the Romney signs you're seeing and all the crowds he's drawing are better than polls. They're not going to be, even if Romney wins. Data is not the sum of anecdotes; it's a ratio of the sum of two kinds of anecdotes. The denominator is what makes the difference. For ever commenter here who sees a sea of Romney signs there's a dKoser in San Francisco who's seeing nothing but Obama.

But to say that the polls are oversampling Democrats is a valid criticism of the polling methodology. If the polls were routinely women + 10 then it would be obvious the methodology was flawed--it would not mean that women are 55% of the population. It's similar with party identification, which can change from week to week, certainly, and so you need to estimate that independently to be sure you are not biasing the sample.

From Inwood said...

See my answer to BTDGreg.

What Dick Morris, Barone, & Prof A are doing is making an educated guess based not on sticking their fingers in the wind, but in reading beyond the Headlines in the polls (R: 48/ O:48) to the internal stuff.

So what they, who are dismissed as Truthers, Deniers, or anti-science by The Slobbering Obamoids, are saying is this internal stuff is not zzzz but an indication of a more complete story, e.g., the results for "independents" In most polls I've seen, Obama's losing independents by double digits a la Carter in 1980, w/o any unusual support among Dems. So I, & as I understand Morris, Barone & Prof A, see Obama as a guy who looks like the losers of the past. In other words, taking an historical perspective rather than simply crunching numbers from polls that are getting their numbers based on an historical outlier, Election 2008. And numbers based on land-line calls which are answered by less than 10% of those called. And we look around us'n & get out of the NE Pauline-Kael bubble by talking to & e-mailing others, some of whom voted for Obama in '08but won't in '12.

We may be wrong. But Silver is junk science even tho he may turn out to be right because of the turnout.

Look, I predicted that Notre Dame & Alabama would win last Saturday, Well they both won only at the last minute & nearly lost. Was I scientific?

Am I now a genius?

And if any of you think that the absence of Obama yard signs is not a dog that didn't bark....

Troubled Voter said...

@from inwood

where is the data on the yard signs? is it just based on anecdotal evidence you've heard in the comments sections of right-wing blogs?

SteveR said...

Where on earth did you dig up this "fact"?

Come on Freder, you need to pay attention, CNN shows a tied race nationally based on a +11 D over R sampling. 2008 was +7. One example of several. That's not to say that more reasonably weighted polls don't show a tight race but you tell me why you would weight it that way?

Freder Frederson said...

What Dick Morris, Barone, & Prof A are doing is making an educated guess based not on sticking their fingers in the wind, but in reading beyond the Headlines in the polls (R: 48/ O:48) to the internal stuff.

And when has Dick Morris (or Prof A for that matter) ever been right?

From Inwood said...

KLDAVIS @354

Nate as your one hit wonder:

Nate predicted great things about the BB Tampa Rays. He was right in 2008 about 2009 & hailed a genius, 2010-2012? Not so big a deal anymore.

Problem is that you're noticing things that are not part of The Narrative, you Truther, Denier.... (gurgle, gurgle)

Conserve Liberty said...

Freder Frederson said...
but how does one scientifically analyze the propensity to commit fraud?

By providing some evidence of fraud other than your paranoia.

11/5/12 3:51 PM


Oh come now Freder. Don't even start with me. I've been around this game a little too long to swallow your posturing. Fraud is part of the political game - always has been, always will be. When both sides do it a little bit it sort of cancels out.

You know it. I know it. They know it. Everyone knows it.

What has changed is the utter amorality of the "win at all costs" big city, union, Democrat machine since 2000. You have Soros so you create the Koch Brothers. You have vanloads of Somalis so you create nefarious poll list cleaners in Orlando. You believe Bush stole that election, so all bets are off and anything is fair. Payback is a bitch - says Valerie J.

We're on to you this time.

furious_a said...

"Hope and Change" is a subjective value. ""Family Values" is a subjective value. "Dog Whistles" and "Code Words" are subjective values. "Cuts" (as in "reduction in the rate of growth") is a subjective value. "Million" (as in "...XXX March" is a subjective value.

Those who emphasize 'subjective' values at the expense of 'objective' political facts have strained out the meaning and gravity of politics.

bagoh20 said...

"He does not explain or predict in that he is not testing theoretical hypotheses,"

Seems to me his hypothesis is that a 9% sampling of the electorate can predict how the other 91% will vote, and very reliably if you use his particular weighing of that data. That hypothesis will be tested tomorrow.

edutcher said...

It's got nothing to do with gut and everything to do with using your eyes and ears and intellect.

Even when the polls were ridiculous, all you had to do was look at what Axelrod and Plouffe were doing (along with some of Barry's stellar moves, like picking a fight with the Catholic Church in an election year) to know they were running scared.

Most of what they've done in the last couple of months bears that out.

From Inwood said...

TV @4:20

Of course my observations are just that & are not scientific. Unlike Silver, however, I don't claim that they are. And I'm not houesbound & they're my observations where I live, where my relatives live & in NYC where I travelled to recently, And they match those of your rightwing bloggers & others I communicate with.

BTW, a friend who has houses in NYC & The Hamptons tells me that the Hamptons are full of Obama signs. As is the Stoneleigh Section of Towson MD. I suspect that that is also true of Kalorama, & University towns everywhere & on Teachers bumpers.

But in 2008 it was true in neighborhoods outside that group everywhwere I went. Not so now.

OK?

furious_a said...

And if any of you think that the absence of Obama yard signs...

I live in a solid RED N. TX district where almost all the county and local races are uncontested by D's. Almost no yard signs for either side. Lots of bumper stickers though, because people (both sides) realize they're not going to get their cars keyed.

Freder Frederson said...

You have Soros so you create the Koch Brothers.

Are you claiming that the Koch brothers (and Adelson) have not plowed an inordinate amount of money into this race?

LoafingOaf said...

People are arguing over what the more accurate way to weight the raw polling data, but I don't see how even the raw data can be accurate. I've gotten MANY phone calls from the pollsters and the calls are so obnoxious few normal people would actually sit through them.

Anyway, I can't wait till the election is over because I have had to turn the ringers off on my land line phones.

And while I'm on that, what has gone wrong with the Do Not Call List, which was one of my personal favorite things the government gave us during the Bush years? It appears few of the telemarketers fear the Do Not Call List anymore. There needs to crack down. (We also need a Do Not Call List for political calls, but I know that'll never happen.)

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Freder:Are you claiming that the Koch brothers (and Adelson) have not plowed an inordinate amount of money into this race?

Compared to whom?

Obama's top donors:

University of California $1,092,906
Microsoft Corp $761,343
Google Inc $737,055
US Government $627,628
Harvard University $602,992
Kaiser Permanente $532,674
Stanford University $473,372
Deloitte LLP $430,084
Columbia University $411,894
Time Warner $408,512
DLA Piper $393,102
Sidley Austin LLP $377,133
University of Chicago $325,256
Comcast Corp $320,366
IBM Corp $318,645
US Dept of State $308,926
University of Michigan $308,410
US Dept of Justice $300,455
Wells Fargo $288,804
Apple Inc $270,856

Romney's top donors:


Goldman Sachs $994,139
Bank of America $921,839
Morgan Stanley $827,255
JPMorgan Chase & Co $792,147
Credit Suisse Group $618,941
Wells Fargo $598,379
Deloitte LLP $554,552
Kirkland & Ellis $496,722
Citigroup Inc $465,063
Barclays $428,250
PricewaterhouseCoopers $421,085
UBS AG $400,390
HIG Capital $385,500
Blackstone Group $360,225
Ernst & Young $293,067
EMC Corp $288,440
General Electric $287,495
Elliott Management $281,925
Bain Capital $279,220
Rothman Institute $263,700





Chip Ahoy said...

It's not a good way to understand things. Polls have too much soul in them already.

To the poll infused throughout with Nate Silver soul I say this, that was then and this is now. All your calipers are likened to the slide rule next a g4 phone containing a seldom used calculator.

Say Nate, this is o.t., but I can't resist it, do you know a guy named Dave Tuller? I bet you guys would hit it off. A math guy. The kind of math that's not practical. PHD Boulder. He told us all in the NYT crossword forum a couple times he stayed in school and wrote puzzle books and cranked out the crossword puzzles basically because he's lazy. He spoke directly to my heart there and I always thought you two should meet.

Drago said...

Freder: "Huh? Where on earth did you dig up this "fact"?

LOL

From the polls internals.

Dems are at +11 in the CNN poll today.

You do look at the polls internals don't you?

Is this really that hard for you?

Don't answer, you'll just embarass yourself further.

Drago said...

Loafing: "People are arguing over what the more accurate way to weight the raw polling data, but I don't see how even the raw data can be accurate. I've gotten MANY phone calls from the pollsters and the calls are so obnoxious few normal people would actually sit through them."

There is alot of truth to this.

It's just one more factor which makes it exceedingly difficult to model the voting population effectively.

Drago said...

Freder: "Are you claiming that the Koch brothers (and Adelson) have not plowed an inordinate amount of money into this race?"

Define "inordinate".

What would be "ordinate" and how would you arrive at that figure?

Rustling Leaves said...

I know of many former Obama voters, myself included, who are voting for Romney, Stein, or Johnson. I also know many fervent Obama supporters who still support him with all their hearts. However, I do not know one person who has gone the other way.

Who knows. Either way I am drinking wine tomorrow night.

dreams said...

Here is Peggy Noonan's answer to Althouse's question.

Maybe some of us can't see the forest for the trees.

"Is it possible this whole thing is playing out before our eyes and we’re not really noticing because we’re too busy looking at data on paper instead of what’s in front of us? Maybe that’s the real distortion of the polls this year: They left us discounting the world around us."

Freder Frederson said...

Compared to whom?

The Kochs and Adelson have routed their money through PACs and 501(c)(3)s, not through direct contributions to the candidates.

Rusty said...

Freder Frederson said...
Compared to whom?

The Kochs and Adelson have routed their money through PACs and 501(c)(3)s, not through direct contributions to the candidates


Oh! You mean like George Soros!

Rusty said...

Freder Frederson said...
Please provide an example of an outcome which would, in your view, definitively falsify Silver's methods.


The 2010 midterms.

SteveR said...

Nate Silver gave Sharon angle a 75% chance of winning.

phx said...

I don't know who any of those people quoted in Althouse's post are, but I do know Leonard Cohen.

"Things are going to slide, slide in all directions
Won't be nothing
Nothing you can't measure anymore
The blizzard, the blizzard of the world
has crossed the threshold
and it has overturned
the order of the soul"

The prophets went thattaway, Kemosabe.

phx said...

"Those who emphasize 'objective' political facts at the expense of 'subjective' values have strained out the soul and significance of politics."

I don't think the wise person who spoke those words was talking just about political polls.

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