Canadian writer Colby Cosh takes more advanced whack at Nate Silver today, arguing that it’s foolish to equate defending Nate Silver and defending science. I agree. He also argues that Nate Silver’s actual analytical skills are likely overrated, going back to his days as a baseball analyst. For more on that, check out the comment thread on this post at Baseball Think Factory.
This comment from that thread gets pretty close to the truth:
This piece does a good job of arguing that Silver’s baseball projections, like his political projections, aren’t notably better than the projections put together by other smart folks in the field. In 2008 and 2010, Silver’s projections did fine, but not notably better than other folks in the field. This seems like a good and important point – Silver isn’t a “wizard”, he’s a good writer with a good model that spits out results of a quality similar to the models of other folks who aren’t as good at writing.
Indeed, what we see is that Silver’s projections are broadly in line with what most people who have built statistical models of the likely results see. Here’s a summary of predictions from a variety of poll aggregators, all of whom use different models:
- FiveThirtyEight: 314.4 electoral votes for Obama
- The Princeton Electoral Consortium predicts Obama will get 309 electoral votes
- electoral-vote.com has Obama at 294
- Election Projection has Obama at 303
- The Huffington Post Election Dashboard has Obama at 277 with 70 tossup votes
- Real Clear Politics has Obama at 201 with 146 tossups
- Votamatic has Obama at 326
If you’re interested in how the aggregators differ check out this post from the Princeton Electoral Consortium.
If you want to see a fuller list of predictions, Ezra Klein also has his own pundit scoreboard.