As we reported earlier, 538’s Nate Silver has assessed the impact of Hurricane Sandy on President Obama’s Election Day chances tomorrow and believes that the leveling event is not the deciding factor in what is predicted to be an Obama win tomorrow.
The 538 blog has pushed Nate Silver into the limelight even further after it was purchased by the New York Times last year, but the popular statistician began to gain credence before this year’s presidential polls after much success during the 2008 election.
And an event like Sandy is certainly one that could throw an outfit like the 538 blog for a loop just days before an election — the effects of the havoc wrought by the disaster are ones no model can take into account when crunching polling data.
Silver himself concedes as much in the latest 538 post but says that Obama’s lead would have come with or without Sandy based on the data-crunching methods the 538 blog uses.
Silver has been arguing frequently lately as he makes the talk-show circuit that, while a tight race makes for better news and ratings, Obama has been slowly and steadily inching ahead all along. He explains:
“If I had told you in January that Mr. Obama’s approval rating would have risen close to 50 percent by November, and that the unemployment rate would have dropped below 8 percent, you likely would have inferred that Mr. Obama was a favorite for re-election, with or without a hurricane and what was judged to be a strong response to it … This is not to dismiss the effects of the hurricane entirely. But the fact that Mr. Obama’s rebound in the polls has been slow and steady, rather than sudden, would lend weight to some of these other ideas, even if they make for less dramatic narratives.”
Silver has predicted and refuted a possible GOP narrative that Sandy swung the election when the data seemed to bear out in Obama’s favor regardless of the storm:
“Already, some analysts are describing the storm as an “October surprise” that allowed Mr. Obama to regain his footing after stumbling badly in the first presidential debate and struggling to get back on course. Some Republicans seem prepared to blame a potential defeat for Mitt Romney on the storm, and the embrace of Mr. Obama by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and other public officials.”
Nate Silver and his 538 blog have come under significant fire from the right as Obama polling predictions out of the outlet become firmer, but many fail to account for the fact that to mislead readers of polls would jeopardize the blog and the statistician’s future standing as a polling whiz.