This, from Politico’s Dylan Byers, is infuriating:
Prediction is the name of Silver’s game, the basis for his celebrity. So should Mitt Romney win on Nov. 6, it’s difficult to see how people can continue to put faith in the predictions of someone who has never given that candidate anything higher than a 41 percent chance of winning (way back on June 2) and — one week from the election — gives him a one-in-four chance, even as the polls have him almost neck-and-neck with the incumbent.
Why? Why is it difficult to see that? Does Dylan Byers not know the difference between saying something is unlikely to happen and declaring that it will not happen?
Silver cautions against confusing prediction with prophecy. “If the Giants lead the Redskins 24-21 in the fourth quarter, it’s a close game that either team could win. But it’s also not a “toss-up”: The Giants are favored. It’s the same principle here: Obama is ahead in the polling averages in states like Ohio that would suffice for him to win the Electoral College. Hence, he’s the favorite,” Silver said.
For all the confidence Silver puts in his predictions, he often gives the impression of hedging. Which, given all the variables involved in a presidential election, isn’t surprising. For this reason and others — and this may shock the coffee-drinking NPR types of Seattle, San Francisco and Madison, Wis. — more than a few political pundits and reporters, including some of his own colleagues, believe Silver is highly overrated.
Hey! That’s me! I live in Madison, Wisconsin! I drink coffee! Wait, why was that relevant again?
To sum up: Byers thinks Nate Silver is overrated because he “hedges” — which is to say, he gives an accurate assessment of what’s going on instead of an inaccurate one.
This makes me want to stab my hand with a fork.
I’m happy that Ezra Klein at the Post decided to devote a big chunk of words to explaining just how wrong this viewpoint is, so I don’t have to. You know what, though, I’ll bet Ezra Klein drinks coffee.