My new column at CJR challenges the recent wave of misguided attacks on Nate Silver, whose estimates for the presidential race are generally consistent with other forecasting models and betting/futures markets. Here's how it begins:
Who will win the presidential election next Tuesday? Until recently, the market for analysis of questions like these has been dominated by mainstream political reporters and commentators. Their style leans heavily on qualitative impressions and hazy narratives. But as the audience for quantitative analysis of politics has grown, the establishment analysts have become increasingly defensive about their status.
The most well-known quantitative analyst of politics is Nate Silver, whose FiveThirtyEight blog now appears on the New York Times website. Even though his black box statistical models have not been publicly disclosed or scientifically validated, Silver’s analyses have acquired a talismanic quality among political junkies, particularly with nervous liberals who are reassured by his forecast of a likely Obama victory (current estimate: 72.9%).
Unfortunately, Silver has become the target of a vitriolic backlash from innumerate pundits whose market dominance is under threat as well as ill-informed conservative commentators who think Silver is somehow skewing the polls for partisan reasons.
Read the whole thing for more.