Why You Can’t Trust Nate Silver (or Cameron Slater) To Accurately Report the US Presidential Elections

There has been a lot of debate over the accuracy of recent polling in swing states with regard to the race for US President. Based on these increasingly ludicrous juiced polls, a whole month out from polling day, and with four televised debates to go, Cameron Slater is prepared to call it for Obama on Whale Oil. Imagine calling the 2005 New Zealand election for Brash one month out, and you get some idea of how stupid this move is.

I’m trying to be a good Christian, so I will refrain from calling Slater all the names I would like to call him at this point. Let’s just settle for questioning his intelligence if that is what he really thinks. I think deep in his heart he knows this is not a done deal, but he clearly wants Obama to win so very badly, because he has made the foolish error of calling it very early on, and knows that he is going to look a massive fool if Romney actually wins. If Obama does win, he has massive bragging rights. He can claim he called it early on and that he is pundit magnus rex, when the most one can say about his claims is that even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Hell, you could toss a coin and be right 50% of the time.

The real test of these polls is whether Obama himself believes in them. The polls supposedly have a statistical tie in North Carolina, but Obama himself thinks this is bollocks, because he shut down his offices in the state, and has not campaigned there since the convention. The polls supposedly have him up ten points in Wisconsin, but he is campaigning there and spending money. Slater must be scratching his head wondering why Obama is doing this, since his trusty polls show that this is not a smart use of his time.

Slater and his trusty source Nate Silver also seem to think that this is going to be a bumper year for the Democrats, and that there is going to be a D+9 or more turnout for Obama come November 6th. That enthusiasm for Obama is so great, and enthusiasm for the GOP to vote him out is so low, that he will get an even bigger turnout than the D+7 he got in 2008! Really?!

Silver has defended the polling by saying that the companies concerned accurately predicted the 2008 result. Well, yes, sort of. Their polling suddenly got very accurate in the last week, but if you look at the campaign as a whole, what do you see? Dustin Hawkins of Breitbart explains:

If Silver had decided to look at what polls from NYT and CBS were saying before their final poll in 2008, he would see that they had Obama winning by 14 early in October. That number would then drop to 13 in mid-October, and then 11 by the end of the month. The final CBS poll would settle in at 9 points, two points higher than Obama’s final margin of victory. So yes, the “final” poll was within 2 points of getting the vote right. But the one taken less than 4 weeks earlier had estimated his lead by more than double what actually happened. I’m guessing Nate Silver would have a great explanation about the McCain surge no one else experienced.

Polling companies want to be accurate in the last week. That’s the only poll anyone remembers afterwards. They can publish any crap before that, and it looks like they do. If, as Silver claims, he is only as good as his data, then he is no good to anybody. And neither is Slater. You can’t trust the sampling on these polls. It’s like counting the number of bumper stickers for Obama that I see here in a Democratic stronghold like San Antonio (lots and lots) versus the number I see for Romney (almost none) and assuming that Obama will win Texas by a landslide, when reality, precedent and political instinct all tell me that Romney is going to wipe the floor here by about twenty points.

I maintain that Rasmussen is still the only poll worth a damn, and Rasmussen still shows a two point race. It is still very close. Anything can happen. I think Slater should check his credit card limit in case he has to buy Leighton Smith a good feed.

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