Moneyball, Politics, And Nate Silver’s Bet

The process of crunching each district’s statistics
Makes some people happy, but some people sad
The numbers the polls are reporting, supporting
Obama’s election, make Romney’s team mad
The “quants” find the stats’ inferential potential
A powerful weapon—the greatest one yet—
They’d back its conclusions ‘gainst bunches of hunches,
And unlike the hunchers, they’re willing to bet.

When faced with the Five-Thirty-Eighters, the haters
Will trust in the wisdom of “somebody said”
The confidence placed in some minion’s opinions
Stems largely from favoring blue state or red.
Belief is perception—our bias can pry us
To left, right, or center, in so many ways
But numbers are numbers—they show it; we’ll know it,
And all of it done… in a couple of days

Just search for “Nate Silver’s Bet”, and you’ll find all the context you need. I’ll link to The Atlantic’s take, cos it stands out a bit–Nate Silver is willing to put his money where his mouth is, and maybe political punditry would be better served if more writers had to back up their lip service with cold hard cash.


  1. says

    I get it that Nate Silver is popular, but there have been poll aggregators far more accurate and who have done it longer.

    Sam Wang at

    Unlike Nate, who still keeps some weighing parameters a secret, Dr. Wang has all his data sources and his calculations available for anyone to download and replicate.

    His model is simpler, just goes by state polls. None of the 0.85 for PPP, 0.79 for Rasmussen etc.

    Occam’s razor: if Sam Wang has been more correct, with fewer assumptions, why is he not being cited more often?

    Then head over to Two Republican law professors are busy raising “skepticism” over Nate and his ilk?

    Why, because it is time to “Save Punditry”

    Dick Morris and Joe Scarborough have been mocking science of polls and statistics, but now they look like idiots.

    So a new rumor is getting constructed>

    1. Before Sandy, it was a tossup
    2. Because of Sandy, Obama is 60-65 certain to win.

  2. Aratina Cage says

    maybe political punditry would be better served if more writers had to back up their lip service with cold hard cash.

    Next you’ll be calling for jail time for pundits who get it wrong. What is this, Italy? /snark off

    I think the factor underlying the corporate, moneyed push for Romney is simple: greed. The rich have a windfall from the elimination of almost all tax burdens within their grasp. A Romney win will also loosen things up for the one-percenters, allowing them to transfer their wealth unadulterated to their heirs. That is why we see someone like Rupert Murdoch, who is disgustingly rich, warning that if Obama is elected again, the next four years will be “dire”; he won’t get that windfall and loosening under Obama and very likely will see a higher tax burden become the settled-in norm by 2016. Nate Silver is nearly the only well-known (unlike Sam Wang) and accessible media personality out there who has foiled the unified corporate media spin of “Mittmentum”.

    But nothing pissed me off more about the controversy surrounding Nate’s bet than seeing the NY Times public editor reprimand Nate for ruining the paper’s reputation without saying a word about another one of their writers publishing a one-sided, horrendous ‘ex-gay’ rehabilitory article which really ought to be something that damages their reputation.

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