Nate Silver, after President Barack Obama, is the man of the hour as the election dust settles and many on the right wonder aloud how it all went so very wrong for Mitt Romney.
And Mitt Romney, unlike Nate Silver, is rumored to have gotten a nasty shock late Tuesday night when it appeared to be certain that the predictions conservative media waved off made on Silver’s blog FiveThirtyEight had accurately and devastatingly borne out — Romney lost in an electoral landslide, handily predicted by Nate in an eerily accurate way.
Now Silver is being held up as a wizard of sorts, magically able to predict the results of elections with accuracy besting that of the political pundit establishment. But Silver spoke Thursday about his methods and the future of predictive politics, and says that there’s no real magic to what he does — just a more comprehensive model than his old guard peers.
Of the failure of polls like Gallup to predict Obama’s electoral landslide, Silver says:
“I think pollsters have to get back to the basics here. Do you have a poll that is actually calling everyone? Some of the polls that didn’t include cellphones had bad years and that’s what you would expect. If you aren’t taking a representative sample, you won’t get a representative snapshot.”
He continues, noting the rise of internet data as well in culling a comprehensive result:
“Polls on the Internet, like Ipsos, and those like it did pretty well. We are living our lives more online and you need to have different ways to capture that.”
Silver also predicts that in the 2016 election, the internet will have an even larger say in how it all shakes out:
” … in four years you will see more Internet-based polling. That’s really a success story this year, and those firms did quite well for themselves. The Google poll was almost perfect, much better than the Gallup poll. We’re living in a world where Google beats Gallup.”
Again on the high-profile failure of many old systems to predict the outcome of the election, Silver explains that filtering has become more of a factor:
“You have to look at the data in a consistent way and an unbiased way and not be fooled by the noise associated with polling. So many people were distracted by the fact that you had polling firms that had outliers, whether from error or poor methodology. The outlier polls got the headlines, whereas the consensus was clear that Obama had a lead in the swing states.”
In the wake of Mitt Romney’s stunning loss, Silver’s new book The Signal And The Noise, shot to the top of book-sales charts.