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Sat Nov 10, 2012, 07:27 AM

How a nerd named Nate Silver changed political reporting forever.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/11/09/nate-silver-how-a-nerd-changed-political-reporting-forever.html

The Statisticians on the Bus
Nov 9, 2012 10:00 PM EST
How a nerd named Nate Silver changed political reporting forever.
Andrew Romano

There was a lot at stake on Nov. 6. The shape of the economy. The contours of the tax code. The survival of Obamacare. And oh, yeah: the reputation of some nerd named Nate Silver, too.

snip//

For months, Silver’s model had shown Obama as the odds-on favorite to recapture the White House. But then a funny thing happened: as Election Day approached and Obama’s swing-state advantage solidified, his chances of winning started to rise into the 70s, 80s, and even 90s—and the Gut Brigade began to get testy.

Suddenly, Joe Scarborough was bashing Silver on MSNBC. “Anybody {who} thinks that this race is anything but a toss-up right now is such an ideologue,” Scarborough scoffed. “They’re jokes.” Meanwhile, New York Times columnist David Brooks went so far as to characterize Silver and his imitators as delusional “wizard{s}” and citizens of “silly land.”

The fight was fun while it lasted. The future is unverifiable, at least at first, so everyone is free to predict whatever outcome they like. But the future always arrives eventually, as it did on Nov. 6, and someone is proven right. In this case, that someone was Silver. When the dust settled, his model had called 49 states correctly (Florida had yet to be officially declared at press time) and prophesied the popular vote to within a half a percentage point. Not one traditional pundit had come close.

snip//

Which is where the whole Silver skirmish comes in. My guess is that the journalists who will stand out in 2016 will be the ones who stick to a simple plan: if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Most political hacks aren’t equipped to become quants. But the best of them will become more quantlike. Grapple with the data. Absorb the political science. Unravel the policy. And distrust the gut. “It’s head-in-the-sand-ism to say you can’t quantify anything,” argues Dartmouth political scientist Brendan Nyhan. “Silver is a threat to the pundit’s status as arbiter of who’s winning and losing. But we need more statistical literacy in journalism, not less. That should be part of the skill set.”

snip//

None of which is to say that our blow-dried anchors and bigfoot correspondents will disembark the plane, at least not anytime soon. And there will always be room for rich narratives and character studies. But maybe, by 2016, the smartest reporters and pundits will realize that Nate Silver & Co. have disrupted the Who Will Win? industry. Maybe they’ll start pursuing their comparative advantages instead. Maybe they’ll become more quantlike—more data-driven and policy-oriented—in the process. And maybe they’ll attract more readers and viewers because of it.

I’d say the odds are pretty good.

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Reply How a nerd named Nate Silver changed political reporting forever. (Original post)
babylonsister Nov 2012 OP
PATRICK Nov 2012 #1
lalalu Nov 2012 #2
Iggy Nov 2012 #3
babylonsister Nov 2012 #4
Iggy Nov 2012 #5
babylonsister Nov 2012 #6
Iggy Nov 2012 #13
fugop Nov 2012 #7
babylonsister Nov 2012 #9
PreacherDI Nov 2012 #8
DemocratSinceBirth Nov 2012 #10
smorkingapple Nov 2012 #11
justiceischeap Nov 2012 #12

Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 07:32 AM

1. Forget the MSM

Trying to fit Nate into their narrative of lies and delusions is sewing new cloth on a greasy rag.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 07:36 AM

2. Nate's the rock star of the media.

 

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 08:08 AM

3. Keep in Mind...

 

years ago, at least ten years ago-- talking bobblehead Cokie Roberts attacked web journalism/pundits.. as not being credible and "people shouldn't be getting their news this way".

why this attack? because people like her and Scarborough and the hundreds of other inane bobbleheads are making a damn good living-- merely shooting off their big mouths. they have little of substance to back up their hyperbole... and it's mostly preaching to the choir.

given what just happened to the GOP, there's not much value now in the bobbleheads. contrary to popular belief in Bloggo world, FAUX does not have enormous power/sway over voters. Obama's victory-- by a large margin, proves this.

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Response to Iggy (Reply #3)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 08:10 AM

4. Good point; I do remember that, and the blogs/internet

journalism has only gotten more popular. Another prediction blown by the likes of Cokie.

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Response to babylonsister (Reply #4)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 08:22 AM

5. To a Degree, It's Understandable...

 

However, all of us are subject to change due to technological improvements/innovation.

that includes lamestream media.

IMHO, old school journalism was doomed regardless, since even before advent of the internets, newspapers stopped doing their job (which is to inform people) and made a point of not reporting on numerous subjects.

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Response to Iggy (Reply #5)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 08:30 AM

6. 'Journalists' also became more opinionated v.

reporting the straight news. Does anyone even do that anymore? I 'could' say Rachel, but I know I'm biased, as is she on occasion, though she does try to present both sides also.

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Response to babylonsister (Reply #6)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 11:46 AM

13. I almost prfer they be opinionated

 

Instead of the total lack of opinion/common sense regarding numerous crucial subjects

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 08:37 AM

7. WE definitely need a change in the pundritry

I like a lot of what this article has to say, but I don't so much favor the idea that pundits need to turn away from the horserace and instead cover who's winning and why. Frankly, I think what they should be covering in depth is the freakin' ISSUES! Talk about the differences between the candidates instead of lazily proclaiming they're basically the same. Dig down into what the candidates are actually proposing (tough, with Mitt, since he didn't actually propose anything, but still. Cover THAT!). Evaluate the lies being told, and the truths, without saying, "The president's people said Mitt Romney is being misleading on the Jeep ad." Is he or isn't he? For fuck's sake, do your homework and TELL US!

Anyway, I'd much prefer we get that from the "journalists" on tv over what the article suggests, which seems to be more coverage of how campaigns work. I don't give a damn how they work until after the election. Sure, all the reporting now on the nitty gritty of how the Obama camp won is fascinating and fantastic to read now. But during the campaign, I want to know what the candidates are saying. What they're planning. What they're offering as a plan or vision for the future. THAT'S what I'd like to see the media report on. The laziness of their "reporting" was more evident than ever this cycle, as all they seemed to report on was he said/he said stuff or polls. No policy. No issues. Nothing.

I'm sure mine is but a pipe dream, but I might actually watch some of these guys again if they'd actually do some work and, you know, REPORT on issues of substance. But they'll probably go the way of this article instead, and continue covering how the campaigns are working rather than what they're actually promising. Bummer.

But I must admit that on election night, after Obama won, my second thought after, "Thank God!" was "Yay for Nate! Vindicated! Suck it, Joe!"

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Response to fugop (Reply #7)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 09:12 AM

9. I agree with you, but there was a problem with that this

election cycle. Can anyone say where exactly Romney stood on the issues? That would have been a useless exercise because his 'opinions' kept changing. Maybe they should have covered Obama exclusively; I don't know, but doesn't much matter now. Next time it SHOULD.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 08:57 AM

8. I disagree...while I agree and digress.

While I agree that Nate Silver's analysis of the approximately 18 national polls was correct, please let us not forget that he was not a pollster and that PPP (Public Policy Polls) was ranked best after the election results came in. Nate Silver just weighted the various polls correctly based on their methodology and went with statistics!

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 09:30 AM

10. In Light Of The Statistical Evidence The Horse Race Narrative Was Laughable

What disturbed me is that some here even bought into that notion and were a tad bit surly when some of the more objective and numerate posters tried to disabuse them of it.


Throughout this campaign Barack Obama always had enough votes to secure an Electoral College victory. The only question was how large it would be.

You didn't even have to be a great statistician like Nate to know that. All you had to do is average the polls at Real Clear Politics. And by doing that you would have got 49 out of 50 states right.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 09:39 AM

11. You need both. Silver ain't giving you any insight on how the fiscal cliff issue gets fixed

but he can help you measure how the American public feels it should be resolved. This in turn might help influence policymakers.

The next generation of political analysts will find the perfect blend between the science and the "gut" part. You really do need both, especially when analyzing policy matters that aint being polled to death.

The problem is there isn't enough polling on those topics like there is in an election season. I wish we could change that. We should be polling every fucking single policy issue and Supreme Court case. Not only would it increase the general awareness of the public on what's happening in our government, it gives the nerds enough data to help measure public opinion.



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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 09:47 AM

12. The problem as I see it is that we have too many pundits

and not enough journalists. I've got no problems with pundits, sometimes they're enjoyable to watch but I never lose focus on the fact that they are pundits... not journalists. Pundits may highlight issues like Melissa Harris-Perry and Rev. Al had nightly segments on election fraud--that was useful but should have been handled by journalists.

Guys like Brian Williams or whomever else hosts nightly news shows on broadcast channels. And of course, this isn't going to happen because the CEO's that own these media companies don't want light shown where it needs to be shown. The Nate Silver's of the world make pundits unnecessary. They can't spin a close election when statisticians are saying it's something otherwise and keeping that sense of drama out of the election doesn't sell ad space... they become obsolete.

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