Nate Silver’s wisdom

So Nate Silver was on the Daily Show this week.  Watch the clip, and then comment briefly on what opinion(s) he expressed about campaigns, the media, the value of opinion polls, etc.  Each of you who comments only need to identify one of his opinions, so you can leave room for others to weigh in.



6 responses to “Nate Silver’s wisdom”

  1. 4thomas says :

    I agreed with a lot of Nate Silver’s comments regarding statistics, media, and polling. However, Nate Silver mentioned that he thinks that in cases like Florida in 2000 and Minnesota in 2004, there should be a revote rather then a recount. I find this to be a highly inconvenient, unrealistic, and even more controversial solution in “too close to call” cases. I can picture the disputes between campaigns when a candidate who was originally the “winner”, becomes the loser in the revote. Then what, best two out of three? With that being said, I unfortunately do not have a better solution nor do I think that the current recount system is proper as shown in Florida in 2000. From what I know, however, there is multiple different private companies used for polling booths in the national election. I don’t usually support governments regulating industries highly, but in this case it is necessary for there to be more uniformity and even possibly a government monopoly on the poll booth industry as to assure there is no bias or rigged ballot counts, like many suspected in Florida in 2000. I may be incorrect about the private polling companies, but I can’t seem to find much more information online. Please let me know if that is the case.

  2. roryblock1 says :

    The opinions Silver expressed in terms of polls and the media were much what I expected. He commented on the fact that the media makes more glamorous the events that are occurring or even makes up facts so that they can have a story. He called it a “fake story” made by the media. Obviously, now that we’re nearing the end of the race there is going to be new things to report on everyday. But 1/2 a year ago, new ideas or new news in general wasn’t coming out on a daily basis. Yes, the candidates were campaigning. But most people hadn’t decided where they stand yet at that point, so there wasn’t much for the media to talk about. Now, people are starting to realize that it’s crunch time and so they’re picking who they may vote for–and thus the media doesn’t have to make stories up.

  3. Kunaal7 says :

    Nate Silver takes the holistic and scientific approach in making his election predictions. He does not simply use national polls to predict; he uses all sorts of polls, national and state to weighs them by past performance. As per Silver, TV pundits seem to make predictions based on entertainment value rather than careful analysis.

    Nate Silver talks about flipping a coin to get election results rather than do expensive re-counts/re-votes. I would like to take this idea one step further. Once both the political parties have chosen their candidate, rather than going through an expensive and frustrating election process, select the candidate by merely flipping the coin. I think it is faulty, nevertheless an interesting idea. Most American’s decision is no different than leaving it to chance (coin-flip). The majority of voters don’t know enough about the issues or the candidates to make an educated decision. So why should we trust the judgment of the non-experts whose votes will decide the election? Moreover, once politicians freed from the appeasing uninformed public opinion, they can do a formidable job of making policies with regards to public interest.

  4. Jonas1 says :

    I like how Silver acknowledges that a lot of “news” is just entertainment. A problem arises when people forget this and put too much faith in news organizations. They consider pundits to be omniscient when, as Silver points out, they’re really just entertainers who are no better than a coin toss when it comes to real predictions. Part of the problem with the data overload we are experiencing is that most people aren’t skeptical enough about the information they get. When it comes from a supposedly reliable “news” source, they don’t think twice about whether it’s really factual or just entertainment.

  5. megweck1 says :

    Silver makes a great point about political polling- we know that he himself is obsessed with tracking the numbers, but he acknowledges that if the polls aren’t used correctly, they become detrimental to the campaign effort. With the onslaught of information, people can easily become misled. That is where they look to the news to give them information, which can often be mistaken for “entertainment”. However, in this day and age I don’t think that is a bad thing. If people find the news to be a source of entertainment, then that is a sneaky way of getting people up to speed on current events. In my opinion, it is crucial for the polls and the media to create a relationship in which the events in the campaign are supported by polls, but are not reliant upon polls that may or may not be accurate. That way, when people go to get their entertainment, they can be more informed with less confusing numbers. Even so, I think polls are important because they give people a reason to come out and vote. In this particular election, with Romney and Obama so close, both parties will have to have good turnout for either candidate to win.

  6. robhrabchak4 says :

    One idea that Nate Silver brought up was the difference between the skill set it takes to get elected, and the skills necessary to be a good president. He argued that finding a way to influence peoples’ vote does not mean that you will be a great leader. I found this interesting because Sam Popkin dedicated a chapter in his book to this idea but he argued the other way. Popkin believed that in running a successful campaign, the elected candidate proved that they were capable of developing a strong team and providing the leadership necessary to be the president. I think that the difference in opinions probably stems from what Nate silver and Sam Popkin believe it takes to get elected. While Popkin would say that assembling a great team is the key, Nate Silver said that a campaign comes down to, essentially, “manipulating people.”

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