Public intellectual Jonah Goldberg is not a bottom-line at-the-end-of-the-day who-was-right kind of guy:
Now, I have no idea whether Silver’s model is the psephological Rosetta Stone some hope — or fear — it to be. And no one else does either.
The truth is that any statistician can build a model. They do it all the time. They make assumptions about the electorate, assign weights to polls and economic indicators, etc., and then they wait for the sausage to come out. No doubt some models are better than others, and some models are simply better for a while and then regress to the mean. But ultimately, the numbers are dependent on the values you place in them. As the computer programmers like to say, garbage in, garbage out.
I’m not saying Silver’s just lucky or shoveling garbage. He’s a serious numbers guy. But so are the folks at the University of Colorado’s political-science department, whose own model is based on economic indicators. Its October 4 findings predicted Romney would win, as did many other models.
They couldn’t all be right.
What interests me is the way people talk about math as if it were divinely prophetic. They seem to subscribe to a religion that simply apes the terminology of science. To listen to many of Silver’s defenders, questioning his methodology is akin to rejecting evolution or the laws of thermodynamics, as if only his model is sanctified by the god Reason.
He goes on about having a soul and not believing that 2 + 2 will always equal 4 …. or something deep and philosophical, it’s not quite clear. Actually, I think he just wanted to use the word psephological and so he built a post around it.
Regardless, when I posted this, the map below was where we stood with Virginia, Florida, and Nevada yet to be called, but with Obama leading in all three
And this was Nate Silver’s final map:
Going 50 for 50 is a pretty good season no matter what sport you play