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Sat Nov 10, 2012, 06:13 AM

Drew Linzer: The stats man who predicted Obama's win


Nate Silver of the New York Times explains the science of presidential predictions (see vid)

Pundits insisted the presidential race was a toss-up, but "polling aggregators" - who analyse polls to make predictions - were being criticised for favouring President Obama. Not any more.

In September we called Drew Linzer, an assistant professor of political science at Emory University, to ask for his predictions for the upcoming US presidential election.

Linzer runs the website Votamatic, which uses current election polls and past historical trends to predict the outcome of major elections. He gave the same prediction he had been posting on his site since 23 June.

Obama 332 votes, Romney 206.

Weeks later, the first presidential debate, when Obama's lacklustre performance kicked off a surge of momentum for the Republican challenger Mitt Romney, Obama's election odds had sunk like a stone in national polls, and states once considered toss-ups were being assigned as favourites for Romney.

Asked again for his updated prediction, Linzer gave the same answer.

No change, he said: Obama 332 votes, Romney 206.

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Reply Drew Linzer: The stats man who predicted Obama's win (Original post)
hue Nov 2012 OP
caseymoz Nov 2012 #1
JackN415 Nov 2012 #2
Esse Quam Videri Nov 2012 #3
cleduc Nov 2012 #5
Baitball Blogger Nov 2012 #4

Response to hue (Original post)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 07:32 AM

1. Electoral college does make elections predictable.

I mean it doesn't matter if Oklahoma goes 70-30 percent red or 51-49. It's still worth only 7 electoral votes. And it's quite possible that the most extreme states are the ones where additional popular votes are won, and the more evenly divided states don't move very much. I mean, in the extreme states, the social pressure to vote with the crowd is stronger.

Really, what were the states that were really in any doubt this time? Not Ohio. In my opinion, Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia. That's it. If Obama had lost the two he won, that would have put him at 290. Still a clear victory.

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Response to hue (Original post)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 08:41 AM

2. He is the real quantitative scientist. Nate Silver is just a follower. Career will tell who is ...


the true statistical inference scientist. My money is on Linzer.

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Response to hue (Original post)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 09:07 AM

3. Bwahahahha, from the article:

After the results were in, journalist Dan Lyons wrote: "Nate Silver and his computers may not put Scarborough and his ilk out of business - there's loads of airtime to fill, and windbags are still needed for that. But Silver has exposed those guys for what they are, which is propagandists and entertainers."

One can hope though, can't they?

Thanks so much for posting this great article!

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Response to Esse Quam Videri (Reply #3)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 11:14 AM

5. The thing is, that I strongly suspect much of the media


already knew Silver and company were right. But

1) A tight race draws more ratings/subscribers resulting in higher ad revenues
2) The billionaires that contributed to Romney also control much of the media we consume

This time around a very special candidate and an exceptionally well run campaign, arguably the best in history, overcame that.

With the amount of lying and flip-flopping Romney was doing and the lack of substance to bolster his policies (ie a core tax plan and budget that wasn't close to adding up to support his claims), this election shouldn't have been close. But these rich old white guys came too close for comfort to buying the presidency of the United States.

The fact that it was as close as it was should be a warning heeded and no stone left unturned to see that it doesn't happen again.

For a democracy to be healthy, the media must serve as the arbiter for the truth - not a clandestine operation to exercise the will of the wealthy. I think we dodged a bullet.

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Response to hue (Original post)

Sat Nov 10, 2012, 11:03 AM

4. This election the pollsters won.

Do you remember during the Bush era when he was losing the exit polls so they discontinued them?

We all need to prepare for 2016 because the Repubs have run out of tricks. They have tried:

1) Vote caging.
2) Sloppy Felon purgings that take down valid registered voters who have similar names.
3) Voter Suppression by overpolling Republicans to depress the Democratic vote.
4) False Voter Registrations sign-ups that toss out Democrats.
5) Disenfranchising students by convincing them to change their addresses, and then tossing out the registration forms.
6) Unreliable electronic voting machines.

How many millions of Dems did the Republicans disenfranchise and Obama still won.

We need to think of the next big monster that they're going to come up with. Thank God they didn't win, or they probably would have started Armageddon to keep their candidate in office for the total eight years. Yes, they're that crooked.

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