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Nate Silver Explains Why Romney Lost And How GOP Can Fight Demographic Shifts

nate silver post election analysis

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.

Nate Silver Emerges As Star Of 2012 Election As He Calls All 50 States Correctly, Defies Critics

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.

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12 Responses to “Nate Silver Explains Why Romney Lost And How GOP Can Fight Demographic Shifts”

  1. Wolff Bachner

    would obama still have won if there was an honest investigation of Fast and Furious and Libya. Probably, since liberals only care about ethics and legality when its the Republicans who are being investigated. If Romney had done the things Obama did in Libya and Mexico, he would have been lynched. the hypocrisy is stunning. Yesterday that great supporter of the Constitution, Michael Moore, was advising Obama to shove his agenda down the throats of the "Neanderthal Republicans" by issuing 10 executive orders a week until he gets every single thing he wants. To hell with congress, to hell with the balance of power, to hell with the law and to hell with the constitution. That is the Democratic party of Obama, Biden and Moore; shoving it down the throats of Americans. Time to move to another country. this one is over.

    And yes, I am angry. I didn't support either candidate. America deserves better. Its time to stop voting for Presidents like it is the Miss America contest and actually elect people who respect the principals of our nation and make decisions based on the will of the people who put them in office.


  2. Ariel Dahan

    Comparing Moore's boorish, over the top, depiction of a liberal to Obama's and other mainstream Dems is like saying all republicans are like Limbaugh and Beck.

  3. Wolff Bachner

    Ariel Dahan you are dead wrong. Mr Obama, the media, and mainstream democrats wage a non stop war on people like Beck and Limbaugh while deliberately ignoring or even embracing the Michael Moore's of the Democratic party. where was Obama's righteous indignation last week, when Michael Moore produced an Obama ad that featured elderly voters making death threats against Romney.You should read the letters to the editor from Obama supporters in the oh so respectable Washington Post the day after the election.Almost without exception, THE VAST MAJORITY OF THE HUNDREDS I READ, were loaded with obscenity laced threats of violence and utter hatred for anyone who dared to exercise their Constitutional privilege and vote for someone other than Obama. you may live in denial if you wish but the occupy thugs and Michael Moore are an influential and substantial part of the new Democratic party of 2012. (and not just in waist size.)

  4. Patrick Frye

    To be fair, many Republicans I've spoken to voted for Romney even after finding out his history of Romneycare and suddenly changing to match all major conservative Republican positions just in time for his run on the Presidency. But in most cases I believe their vote was more anti-Obama rather than pro-Romney.

    Also, Ariel Dahan, since when did Obama become mainstream or moderate? That would be members of the Democratic Leadership Council or the Blue Dog Coalition, not someone like Obama whose positions are historically further left of center than most Democrats. If Obama is now to be considered mainstream than the overall Democratic party has been tacking to the left further than I thought.

  5. Ariel Dahan

    Wolff – I don't excuse ignorance and attacks from either side. I believe you, but I read with my own side comments just as disgusting from the other side as well, even more so.

    Patrick – I don't really focus on Obama himself; I was referring more broadly to the DLC, and official party policy. And for all the rhetoric, Obama isn't as far left from center as others would have you believe. On a global scale, he's almost a centrist. Moore's a thug and gets vilified by the right as bad as Limbaugh gets on the left.

  6. Samuel Elias

    You make some points, but mostly I see some anger. Be patient and watch carefully what happens over the next 2-4 years before moving away; you have some good ideas.

  7. Ariel Dahan

    Good column Wolff – you hit it on the nail I think, and that's the point of view that so infuriates me with the current GOP and their basest of supporters. For me Moore is the Rush of the left. Claiming all democrats and all liberals are voting for free stuff is completely absurd. Yet time after time in forums like these, there's a litany of right wingers claiming exactly that, and assuming everyone who votes Dem is living on the government dole (which is not a life at all).

  8. Ariel Dahan

    Another thing that makes me laugh are all the Obama phone comments. A quick google search will prove that the phone assistance program, while initially started under Clinton for landlines, was expanded to include cell phones under W. Bush. Bush-phones anyone?

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