Monday, 12 November 2012
Nate Silver is a genius!
A key part of my regular reading has been Nate Silver's Fivethirtyeight blog attached to the New York Times..
Nate Silver is a statistician and a geek, I'm sure his alter ego has a starring role on Big Bang Theory. He made a bit of a name for him by building a statistical model for predicting baseball results. Following success with that he turned to politics and predicted the US election incredibly accurately in 2008. I discovered him towards the end of that campaign.
Now lets be clear - Nate Silver is a genius. And so are the guys at Votamatic and a couple of other stats based poll analysis sights. They got their predictions on what was going to happen in the US elections absolutely spot on. (And that by the way is the point - he was giving statistical probability of given events happening based on the data and a multitude of factors coming together)
I can't believe how right Nate Silver was right about everything in this election. Not only that but also how he described accurately the shape of the race at every stage and identified the underlying cause and effects. And in his use of data he was able to show what was happening not just give a politically loaded narrative or a best guess gut feel.
I did wonder if there was some under counting of shy Republicans - if Romney was going to do a Bush and pull out the numbers on election day. But the polling was scientific and their statistically significant samples called it right. It was a couple of the Republican polls who got it all wrong by trying to weight the electorate.
Because not only did Silver describe the race at every turn perfectly but his understanding about different polls and how they work is first class. This added another dimension. And he explains everything, comprehensively and lucidly.
Quite frankly throughout the race if you wanted to really understand what was going on all you had to read was Nate Silver.
And he didn't do that awful thing American's do and say everything is a toss up or too close to call. Silver told us what was happening and how probable each outcome was - state by state - day by day.
Using data dispassionately - and patiently waiting for the numbers to come through - Nate could explain how much difference each debate made, what effect the conventions had - even individual speeches and accounted for economic factors as well as noting any trend or momentum in an ever changing environment.
The accurate enlightenment of the body of work by Nate and his team was breath taking to behold. Not to mention how it exposed douchebag in chief Karl Rove as being a bag of spin and partisan narrative.
Political punditry may never be the same again.
Data and evidence based commentary!
All hail King Nate!