Nate Silver 538 Blog: Why NYT Pollster is Right about Election 2012

Nate Silver is on the hot seat, and anyone who has seen currents polls will know why. Silver, who writes the popular New York Times blog FiveThirtyEight, is predicting that President Obama has a 79% chance of winning next week’s election.

 



Although most polls and political wizards are calling this a close race, Silver is going against the grain and will not back down from his predictions. After seeing his predictions from 2008, siding with Silver doesn’t seem like a bad idea.

In the 2008 elections, Silver correctly predicted results for 49 of the 50 states. He does this all through an algorithm, which uses opinion polls to produce his predictions. There is no politics nor partisanship behind his methods, only the cold, straight numbers that Silver lives by.

Silver’s current prediction for the 2012 elections has been music to the ears of Democrats, and a major source of agitation for Republicans. Across the polls, Obama and Romney have been neck-in-neck, with Romney gaining the lead in some key states. Just days away from the ultimate battle, election predictions are the closest they have been. Silver predicts President Obama winning key states like, Iowa, Nevada, Ohio, and Colorado, though according to his numbers, Florida is still a toss-up.

Silver's predictions have even led to backlash from Joe Scarborough, the host of Morning Joe on MSNBC. Scarborough claims, “Anybody that thinks that this race is anything but a tossup right now is such an ideologue, they should be kept away from typewriters, computers, laptops and microphones for the next 10 days, because they’re jokes.”

Silver responded with the following:

 


 

 

But could Nate Silver be wrong?

There is a chance that his algorithm is inaccurate. The political climate for this election season is far different from the one we witnessed four years ago. In 2008, Barack Obama stepped in when former President Bush was at one of his lowest popularity rates of his presidency, the economy was collapsing all around us, and there seemed to be no hope in sight. People were disillusioned with the Republican Party; Obama promised change, hope, and prosperity.

Now, we have seen President Obama in action for four years, and many are still disillusioned. This time, voters' troubles are with the man they thought would bring change. These elections are a challenge to all those who voted for change in 2008 to wait out the next four years, or to jump ship and see if Mitt Romney won’t flip-flop on his policies again.

While the election may just be a numbers game for Nate Silver, given his past accuracy, it seems fair to take his “Political Calculus” into account. 

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Belinda Moreira

Belinda is a Teach for America 2013 Corp Member and 10th grade English teacher in the DC Region. She is a graduate of Georgetown University. She also has a particular interest for education policy, and is originally from Houston, TX.

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