Friday, November 7, 2008

Another Winner: Nate Silver

Congrats, also, to Nate Silver, whose polling website was by far the most accurate tracking of the election.

I was skeptical when Nate Silver appeared on the scene (from my perspective), decrying Real Clear Politics' polls as being slanted to the right. I agreed with him that RCP should publish their math. Polls are, in my mind, political science, and as such they should have open, repeatable methods. Also, as journalism, they shouldn't be a black box.

But his own method struck me as fishy. He purported to "adjust for the bias" in various sources; trying to take the right out of Fox and the left out of MSNBC seemed to me to be a very interpretive battle. And anything interpretive becomes open to bias.

But the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. The most important test for scientific theory is whether it can accurately model and predict reality. And seeing how accurate his numbers were, Nate Silver won on that score in this election. Congrats, Nate Silver. I'll keep watching your coverage of politics in the future to see if you can keep it up. As long as you continue to accurately model reality, you're my pollster.

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