Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

The "Political Press," AKA "People Paid To Lie On TV," Were Very Wrong

There are so many things that are wrong with this statement, but mainly: the "liberals" (and, presumably, "everyone else"?) wanted a "political press" that wasn't lying to them. Because what was happening with predictions over the last week was that MANY PEOPLE WERE JUST LYING. Newt Gingrich said Romney would get "over 300" electoral votes. That's not about accuracy or misjudgment. That's just lying on the T.V. shows. Because the popular press, which is mostly TV, hires people who are not the press; they are actually operatives. So the enthusiasm for Nate Silver was actually a reprieve from the political press. And their job is to lie on the T.V. Let's review who expected Mitt Romney to get 206 electoral votes (Florida still being out, caveat). For starters: NOT ANN COULTER.


And there are many, many, many more. Such as: everyone who has worked in some capacity for the Republican party.

So who thought Obama would get either 303 or 329?

From our pundit roundup, Jamelle Bouie, Jennifer Granholm and Matthew Dowd all came in at 303. And our own forecast predictor, Evan Hughes, came in with an ambitious 323. (AKA, "the Colorado surprise," but including Florida, which may happen.)

26 Comments / Post A Comment

Matt (#26)

When did this website become an annotated Twitter feed?

NinetyNine (#98)

At the very lest get Linkins and Cox to do it.

alorsenfants (#139)

@Matt I joined Twitter yesterday. Is that it? doubts it#

NinetyNine (#98)

Damn, should have gone with "They like Twitter screencaps, generally." It's not too late is it?

conklin (#364)

Technically they are Twitter embeds, but you are probably too proud to take a third hack at it.

Hey, now, many of them aren't lying, they're just too stupid and innumerate to have any clue what is actually going on.

BadUncle (#153)

"Colorado Surprise" sounds like something from Jolie's kitchen. Or bar. Either way, I demand the recipe.

iantenna (#5,160)

@BadUncle it's just a pot brownie that's not advertised as such.

Will Mosher@twitter (#239,229)

If some enterprising pot-growers don't have a strain of bud named "Colorado Surprise" by the end of the week, I will lose faith in the pot-growing community.

@Will Mosher@twitter : I'm growing an Acapulco Gold cultivar called "Nate Silver".

Astigmatism (#1,950)

"But the more proximate cause of my error was that I did not take full account of the impact of hurricane Sandy and of Governor Chris Christie’s bipartisan march through New Jersey arm in arm with President Obama. Not to mention Christe’s fawning promotion of Obama’s presidential leadership.
It made all the difference."


Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@Astigmatism It's like the guy who hijacked the bus and drove it into a ditch saying he was wrong because he didn't turn the wheel this way or that way quickly enough. You were wrong because you hijacked the bus, you nutjob!

Multiphasic (#411)

Can I ask who originated "America's Boyfriend Nate Silver"? My gut says Juli Wiener but my heart says it is just one of those things that was always so.

So this all means the Oakland A's are going to finally win the World Series next year, right?

Multiphasic (#411)

@Clarence Rosario Well we definitely had Nancy Pelosi unable to remember Sergio Romo's name last night, I'd like to see what she does with Yoenis Cespedes.

stuffisthings (#1,352)

I'm pretty sure QE3 did more for Obama than Sandy, weed, and rape combined. But I guess if you struggle with the math behind simple probabilities, you're not going to have a very deep understanding of Fed policy either.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@stuffisthings Exactly. If you have all the data put together in a nice colored map that an idiot can read, and you can't interpret that, then what the fuck can you interpret?

stuffisthings (#1,352)

@Niko Bellic I'm still waiting for someone to say Silver was wrong because Obama didn't win 90.2% of the vote.

Well Nate Silver isn't "the political press", so that's okay. He's a statistician.

David (#192)

Now imagine that Nate Silver worked for one of any of the Wall Street firms that are in the business of building "financial" models that predict likely outcomes in the business of trading equity shares (stock). And let's just say that his specific models, when tested and run, predicted the correct results most of the time, and that those models were then deployed to buy and sell stocks with results that are measured in the ways that are easy to understand. And then he (or those that used his models) made a great deal of money. Well, then the Republicans might think very differently of him, wouldn't they?

To state the obvious, Nate Silver—-as a reporter-—has correctly applied and utilized mathematical equations (logic and rules) to real world information (i.e. people’s expressed opinions about the way they would vote over a period of time), and obtained predicted right answers. So Nate Silver is also a scientist. The anti-intellectuals who just don’t understand the unbiased nature of Science—-apparently because it can reveal what they don’t want to hear–will just have to go on and live with enjoying the frustration that comes from rejecting what Science (correctly applied) provides.

stuffisthings (#1,352)

@David I just had a thought: all news organizations should institute a rule that every time one of their paid employees utters a prediction on TV, $1,000 of their next paycheck goes on Intrade as a bet for/against that prediction. Anyone who calls a specific number of electoral votes is betting their entire next year's salary.

I predict that either the quality of predictions would dramatically increase, or reporters and pundits would start talking about actual policy and issues rather than horse-race nonsense that Excel made obsolete decades ago.

stuffisthings (#1,352)

@stuffisthings (I also predict that Nate Silver becomes very, very rich)

David (#192)

@stuffisthings: You know, this year analysts at Goldman Sachs correctly predicted the exact number of medals the British team members would win at the Olympics. They didn't announce or publish their view of your equivalent "policy and issues" for specific athletes for the event outcomes they were predicting. What was of value, and what reflects the GS analyst-team's intellectual and analytical prowess was that they got the prediction right. That ability to get an outcome correct in advance of a specific event is what is of such value because the skill set– applied in myriad ways gives the predictor (like Nate Silver and his firm, The New York Times) advantages that others don't have. My point being that it is in this case the ability of Nate Silver to get the "horse-race nonsense" right that is so awesome, and that rightly deserves thoughtful applause. Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's …

Policy and issues both follow and lead election outcomes. It's nice to see someone can get the election outcome so right.

stuffisthings (#1,352)

@David Oh no I didn't mean that as a dig at Nate Silver or election predictions — I'm just saying that if you're interested in predicting the outcome an election, his method (create and refine a model and dutifully report the numbers and their limitations) is superior to endlessly bloviating on TV. By "horse race nonsense" I mean stuff like "President Obama blew his nose — what does this mean for Ohio????" that has filled the news for the past year. Nate and his ilk do not concern themselves with this kind of speculation. If people in Ohio cared that Obama blew his nose, then it would show up in the poll numbers a few days later. There is literally no value in speculating about it immediately after the fact.

I actually think it's really important to hold the pundits accountable because maybe, maybe they will realize that they are utterly useless at what they currently perceive their job to be (predicting who will win the election) and maybe, just maybe, will start doing something more useful, like debating actual policy. A discussion of the specific impacts of Romney's tax plan would be infinitely more valuable to voters than speculating on how likely voters are going to interpret his facial expressions during the debate.

However, even without the help of a mathematical model I can predict with 99% certainty that this will not happen any time soon.

Ralph Haygood (#13,154)

See also

Most of these people should now be ignored in perpetuity. Indeed, many of them (e.g., Coulter) should have been ignored in perpetuity starting years ago. But of course they won't be, because our traditional media industry is devoid of shame. And that's why I read The Awl (and Wonkette and FiveThirtyEight and a few others) instead of watching TV news.

john smith (#245,014)

That's not about accuracy or misjudgment. That's just lying on the T.V. shows. Because the popular press, which is mostly TV, hires people who are not the press; they are actually operatives. So the enthusiasm for Nate Silver was actually a reprieve from the political press

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