In the lead up to Election Day, Nate Silver’s popular blog FiveThirtyEight emerged as a frequent destination for poll watchers as well as what developed to be a battle of math and science versus instinct and punditry. (Spoiler alert: math won.)
Until Tuesday, Nate Silver was sought out for one thing this year — polling predictions. But now the election is over, Silver is presumably resting on his laurels, and math has done an epic victory lap. Which allows us to move on to the next phase in politics … what exactly happened on Election Day and why?
Like many truths, those revealed by Nate Silver were neither sudden nor even, when it comes down to it, a shock. Instead, the models used over on the New York Times-owned property simply uncovered the numbers that were already there, waiting to be revealed. The die had been cast, and the result nearly predestined; Nate Silver and the actions of the electorate merely revealed what we already knew.
And today, Silver began to slice and dice the data collected on Election Day, the results that bore his predictions out in spectacularly accurate fashion — or as Rachel Maddow very succinctly put it:
“Nate Silver was not making up fake projections about the election to make conservatives feel bad. Nate Silver was doing math.”
In the first of what will hopefully be a look into why exactly Silver’s predictions bore out from a statistical perspective, he delves into how the numbers came to fall in a prediction so apparent mathematically. Ultimately, he says, it has to do with long-term demographic shifts in states that were historically considered unpredictably likely to swing.
Silver first examines states that are getting redder, comparing them to ones gaining liberal ground and noting that the reddening states are positioned so that the “vote is distributed inefficiently in terms of the Electoral College.” He explains:
“By contrast, a large number of electorally critical states – both traditional swing states like Iowa and Pennsylvania and newer ones like Colorado and Nevada – have been Democratic-leaning in the past two elections. If Democrats lose the election in a blowout, they would probably lose these states as well. But in a close election, they are favored in them.
“The Republican Party will have four years to adapt to the new reality. Republican gains among Hispanic voters could push Colorado and Nevada back toward the tipping point, for example.”
The blogger also offers up some advice to the GOP to turn their fortunes around in states once considered toss-ups. He writes:
“States like Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Iowa are overwhelmingly white – but also highly educated, with fairly progressive views on social policy. If Republicans moderated their tone on social issues, they might be more competitive in these states, while regaining ground in Northern Virginia and in the Philadelphia suburbs.”
Silver’s first in-depth analysis of the post-election data and advice to the GOP can be read over in his newest FiveThirtyEight post.