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Author Topic: States to watch
AI Wessex
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"Mitt's killing it in the independent vote but Barry holds the overall lead? Heavy, and potentially unsupportable, advantages to Barry in the sample and Barry is still just barely holding onto enough to call it a tossup. I think it's either much closer than the poll says or Mitt has the edge."

It's interesting reading along in the discussion here about polls. Most "liberal" members are talking about polling methodology and reliability, while G# is arguing that polls that *don't* show Romney winning are not only wrong, but biased. What does he care? The only poll that matters is next Tuesday. In the meantime, reading Nate Silver is like getting an education; reading RCP is like stacking oreos to see how high they go before you get hungry and just plain eat one.

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D.W.
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The Oreo plan sounds like the most productive to me. Mmmm
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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by D.W.:
The Oreo plan sounds like the most productive to me. Mmmm

No, the Oreo plan is just sugar coated soy, designed to appeal to the unsophisticated palate. The Nutter Butter plan is obviously superior and has an approximately 74.6% chance of winning next week, but an 80.314159% chance if the contest were held today.
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Wayward Son
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You're off by 0.000030%. [Smile]
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DonaldD
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quote:
Originally posted by JWatts:
quote:
Originally posted by D.W.:
The Oreo plan sounds like the most productive to me. Mmmm

No, the Oreo plan is just sugar coated soy, designed to appeal to the unsophisticated palate. The Nutter Butter plan is obviously superior and has an approximately 74.6% chance of winning next week, but an 80.314159% chance if the contest were held today.
Actually, make that 77.4% next week or 79.5% if held today [Wink] Plus or minus a slice of pi, of course.
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AI Wessex
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"Plus or minus a slice of pi, of course."

Only if you're rounding up or down.

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Wayward Son
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This argument is getting irrational.
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NobleHunter
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I think there's too many imaginary numbers.
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AI Wessex
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Imaginary numbers in politics include the number of voters in Texas who died 20 years ago but still somehow manage to send in their absentee ballots every 4 years.
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NobleHunter
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Unless they're just endlessly repeating. Then they wouldn't be imaginary numbers.
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G3
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Let's look at the Quinnipiac/New York Times/CBS News Virginia poll again.

First, the history: in VA 2008 the actual, final breakdown was D39% R33% I27%. Obama beat McCain by one point among independents, 49%-48%. The end result, Obama wins VA by about 52-46.

Now, 4 years later this poll says we have a D35% R27% I35% electorate in VA. Independents are way up and among those I's, Romney has a 21 point lead. The end result, Obama declared up by 2% in the polls. My back of the envelope, on the fly, WAG says that would come in around Obama winning VA at about 50-48.

Obama loses, *massively*, among a considerably larger I electorate and still holds that kind of lead? It seems that poll has to be a little off. I don't buy a D+8 poll only putting Obama up by 2 either. If that's the case, voter enthusiasm for him must be truly in the ****ter.

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Pyrtolin
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A 60/40 split of those I's would be 21% and 14%, repsectively. That's Romney up by 20% among the I's. Total vote count, assuming otherwise perfect fidelity would be O: 49%, R: 48% leaving a bit of room for minor party blur.

How many of those I's and R's are undecided or breaking for Goode? There are some suggestion that he's got enough pull, particularly in SW VA, to bend those counts a bit. You only need to bleed 1% (in absolute terms) more away from Romney with votes for Goode or Johnson than are going to Stein to open that to 2% in Obama's favor. Especially when considering that people are much more willing to assert a minor party vote on the phone ahead of time than they are to actually follow through.

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hobsen
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There seems to be a real split this year, with some pollsters predicting over 300 electoral votes for Romney, and others the same for Obama. That is way outside what is supposed to be the margin of error for properly designed polls, and is a lot more than spin. After next Tuesday some sources will look brilliant, and others will need major redesign to regain credibility, but as yet it is hard to say which is which.

At least the hurricane is unlikely to have much effect. The really disputed states are too far west, except perhaps for Ohio, to have received damage. I at least had always assumed Romney would take North Carolina and Florida and Virginia, so what happens on the East Coast does not matter for the outcome.

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AI Wessex
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As we get down to the wire, the polls I'm seeing are solidifying for Obama. Essentially the Romney bounce after the first debate has run its course. But the election itself still poses interesting and potentially frightening possibilities for massive vote fraud. That's not the same thing as voter fraud. Vote fraud is the manipulation of vote tallies to favor one candidate over another. Ohio is the most sensitive state for that, followed by Virginia due to those states' dependence on electronic voting.

Back in 2010 Washington DC tested the security for their electronic voting option for military personnel. The result was that every time a vote was cast the University of Michigan fight song would play. As a Michigander, I can tell you that hearing the song just on Saturdays is annoying enough, so it was a cruel trick to hack the machines and install the song as they did. The simple beauty of their sabotage was that it was undetectable, as would any vote swizzling be without a paper trail. Most electronic voting machines don't include that as an option.

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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by hobsen:
There seems to be a real split this year, with some pollsters predicting over 300 electoral votes for Romney, and others the same for Obama. That is way outside what is supposed to be the margin of error for properly designed polls, and is a lot more than spin. After next Tuesday some sources will look brilliant, and others will need major redesign to regain credibility, but as yet it is hard to say which is which.

Yes, there definitely seems to be a large gap in the polls. However, that might just be an artifact of a tight race.
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yossarian22c
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quote:
Originally posted by Wayward Son:
This argument is getting irrational.

*warning really bad math pun below [Big Grin]

The rationals are too dense to argue.

*A bit of math history below.

Honestly though all the numbers after the rational numbers were named with a since of word play.

Rational numbers - a ratio of two integers
Irrational numbers - numbers with a decimal representation that aren't rational numbers
Real numbers - any number with a decimal representation
Imaginary numbers - not real numbers

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DonaldD
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79.0% and 81.4% today. That still means that Romney would win once out of every five times, but it's getting to the point where Silver will look quite bad if Obama doesn't win.
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NobleHunter
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Silver will have a decent defense if *all* the state polls are garbage. If I remember the last Canadian election right, pretty much all the prognosticators were wrong because most of the polls were wrong about the level of support for the Conservatives.

While Silver compensates for bad polls, if all the polls are bad, then he really has nothing to work with. Another dodge would be that the nationwide polls are actually more accurate than the state polls, despite recent trends.

Of course, if he's wrong and the other poll aggregators are right or the vote percentages largely match the polls, then he he'll have to write a very awkward blog post following the election.

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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by NobleHunter:
Silver will have a decent defense if *all* the state polls are garbage. If I remember the last Canadian election right, pretty much all the prognosticators were wrong because most of the polls were wrong about the level of support for the Conservatives.

While Silver compensates for bad polls, if all the polls are bad, then he really has nothing to work with. Another dodge would be that the nationwide polls are actually more accurate than the state polls, despite recent trends.

That's not a valid defense in Nate Silver's case. He has applied his own weighting to the polls on an individual basis. So he's picking the polls to use and deciding how much trust to give them.

Saying I trust poll X and then later saying that I'm not at fault, it was poll X that mislead me is not a valid defense. His only reasonable defense is if the specific polls he gave a higher weighting too were more accurate than other reliable polls were. However, even then he can't point to beating a poll with a notoriously bad record (say IBD/TIPP) as a sign of success.

Let's see how Nate Silver stacks up against Rasmussen or Gallup.

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Wayward Son
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It came to me last night why I think Nate is a sincere poll watcher rather than a partisan.

Partisans spend most of their time talking about how the other side is wrong.

Nate spends most of his time talking about why he thinks he is right.

This, I think, is a pretty good test in most areas of dispute. [Big Grin]

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NobleHunter
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I'm not saying that "poll X is bad" is a defense. I'm saying that if there are no good polls then it's a defense. It's theoretically possible for the polls to completely fail to measure the mood of the electorate. He's going to be wrong if there's a systematic problem with essentially all of the polls.

As I said, I think that's what happened in Canada's last election.

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AI Wessex
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Here's an interesting analysis and attack on Nate Silver's credibility and predictions by Dean Chambers, founder of the ultra-conservative but "non-partisan" website unskewedpolls.com that reminds me of Noel's devastating analysis of the deficiencies of Hillary Clinton's foreign policy stewardship at State:
quote:
Nate Silver is a man of very small stature, a thin and effeminate man with a soft-sounding voice that sounds almost exactly like the “Mr. New Castrati” voice used by Rush Limbaugh on his program. In fact, Silver could easily be the poster child for the New Castrati in both image and sound. Nate Silver, like most liberal and leftist celebrities and favorites, might be of average intelligence but is surely not the genius he's made out to be. His political analyses are average at best and his projections, at least this year, are extremely biased in favor of the Democrats.
He then goes on to buttress his argument by saying:
quote:
He claims to have been highly accurate in predicting the 2008 election results, and perhaps he was.
Huh? Oh, he gives this further analysis to explain why that isn't important:
quote:
But it's highly unlikely his current methods and projections will have the level of accuracy unless he changes then quite a lot between now and election day. The race has shifted profoundly in favor of Mitt Romney while Nate Sillver is still projecting an Obama win. Unless he changes that, the credibility he earned in 2008 will be greatly diminished after this years election.
Deep thinking, deep thoughts. Here are some "analysis" articles recommended by this author (which I think he just happened to write himself, but I am not sure):
quote:
Mitt Romney leads by nine percent in new QStarNews presidential poll
Mitt Romney 54 percent 359 electoral votes projected at UnSkewed Polls site
Mitt Romney maintains strong electoral lead...
Romney leads in nine of 11 key swing states by UnSkewed Polls averages (new 10/28)

Gotta remember this guy's name and see what he says after the election.
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kmbboots
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http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/wp/2012/10/30/the-nate-silver-backlash/

quote:
Every major political betting market and every major forecasting tool is predicting an Obama victory right now, and for the same reason: Obama remains ahead in enough states that, unless the polls are systematically wrong, or they undergo a change unlike any we’ve yet seen in the race, Obama will win the election.

There’s no doubt about that. Real Clear Politics, which leans right, shows Romney up by 0.8 percent nationally, but shows Obama up in Ohio, New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Romney is up in Florida and North Carolina, but note that his lead in Florida is smaller than Obama’s lead in Ohio. And RCP shows Colorado and Virginia tied. Pollster.com, meanwhile, shows Obama leading by a point in Colorado and Virginia and the race tied in Florida.


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Wayward Son
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quote:
Here's an interesting analysis and attack on Nate Silver's credibility and predictions...
And here's another from Sean Davis at the Daily Caller, basically echoing NobleHunter's analysis.

quote:
Because the FiveThirtyEight model is a complete slave to state polls. When state polls are accurate, FiveThirtyEight looks amazing. But when state polls are incorrect, FiveThirtyEight does quite poorly. That’s why my very simple model and Silver’s very fancy model produce remarkably similar results — they rely on the same data. Garbage in, garbage out.
But Sean takes it a bit farther:

quote:
Nate Silver’s model could very well forecast every state correctly next week, assuming the polls accurately reflect the true voting population. But if they’re wrong, it’ll be Nate Silver whose value is at risk. If that happens, I have a great title for his next book: “The Snake and the Oil.”
The big difference between Sean's model and Nate's model is that, after the election, Sean will put his paper away until the next election. Nate will start tearing his model apart, trying to make it better.

What I don't understand is why Dean and Sean are so concerned about Nate. If Nate is wrong, he's wrong; Tuesday will tell, and they can laugh at him then. If Nate's right, then he's right; he didn't create the outcome, he just reported it. But why deride him before the election, or at all? He just another prognosticator, one who is trying to make a more scientific prognostication than the regular off-the-cuff prognosticators. Because it is somewhat mathematical, I believe it has a slightly better chance of being right. But even the best guess is still a guess. [Smile]

It feels like there is a bit of jealously going on here with these Nate haters, don't you think? [Smile]

[ November 01, 2012, 01:46 PM: Message edited by: Wayward Son ]

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DonaldD
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I know it won't be popular to point this out, but even when an election diverges from a poll, it doesn't necessarily mean the poll was 'wrong'; remember, every poll is published with a (usually 95%) confidence level. If you hit the 1/20 chance, then you hit the 1/20 chance.

Now, because Silver is averaging polls, and giving credence to some polls over others, and takes into consideration somewhat historical information, he should arguably have a better than 95% confidence level. But still, even if calling the election 80% for Obama (he's 'only' at 80% right now), 99 times out of 100, there is still the 20% chance that Romney could win and still be consistent with his modelling even if his modelling is 100% correct.

It won't be satisfying to many people, and Silver would likely accept the shaming that would come his way, but that's just statistics.

[ November 01, 2012, 02:01 PM: Message edited by: DonaldD ]

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AI Wessex
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"What I don't understand is why Dean and Sean are so concerned about Nate. If Nate is wrong, he's wrong; Tuesday will tell, and they can laugh at him then. If Nate's right, then he's right; he didn't create the outcome, he just reported it. But why deride him before the election, or at all?"

Because he's physically unattractive. But seriously, folks, Republicans and conservatives have an unsatisfiable need to control the conversation. I think this is consistent with conservative political thinking in general in which they want to disallow the possibility of abortion, same sex marriage, raising taxes -- anything they have a glimmer of insight into and disagreement with. That doesn't include just the deeds themselves, but any discussion of them. They think each of those things is in essence the result of a meme, and by disallowing the meme they can make the act itself disappear <poof!>.

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AI Wessex
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Romney is the one who's getting desperate. Now he's shifting his focus from lying about auto jobs in Ohio to making up lies about Medicare in Virginia:
quote:
“I happen to believe that the choice you make [on Nov. 6] will have enormous consequence for a senior who’s perhaps needing the care of a specialist,” the Republican candidate explained. “If he or she makes a call to the doctor and if Obamacare is installed and the president’s re-elected, why when making that call, you’re mostly likely going to have the receptionist come back and say, ‘Sorry, we’re not taking in more Medicare patients.’”

After pausing for boos and moans from his supporters, Romney continued: “Because the president is cutting Medicare to pay for Obamacare.”

Everywhere he goes he has a new fright tale woven of lies tailored for his audience.
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kmbboots
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I think that it has more to do with how pundits make their money. If it isn't a "horse race" with every little thing being a "game changer" no one will watch or listen to them and they will be out of jobs.
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G3
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quote:
Originally posted by Wayward Son:
What I don't understand is why Dean and Sean are so concerned about Nate. If Nate is wrong, he's wrong; Tuesday will tell, and they can laugh at him then. If Nate's right, then he's right; he didn't create the outcome, he just reported it. But why deride him before the election, or at all? He just another prognosticator, one who is trying to make a more scientific prognostication than the regular off-the-cuff prognosticators. Because it is somewhat mathematical, I believe it has a slightly better chance of being right. But even the best guess is still a guess.

Do you know where Silver works? Guess ...

quote:
Originally posted by Wayward Son:
It feels like there is a bit of jealously going on here with these Nate haters, don't you think? [Smile]

It feels like there is a bit of defensiveness going on here with the Nate lovers, don't you think? [Smile]
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Wayward Son
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quote:
Do you know where Silver works? Guess ...
So what? Does the place where you work influence how much we should trust your explanations and reasonings?
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TCB
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JWatts said:
quote:
That's not a valid defense in Nate Silver's case. He has applied his own weighting to the polls on an individual basis. So he's picking the polls to use and deciding how much trust to give them.
The polling data out of the swing states paints a pretty fairly consistent picture of where the race is at. The last seven polls out of Ohio show Obama +2, Obama +3, Obama +3, Obama +3, Obama +5, Obama +5, Obama +5. Granted, that list doesn't include Rasmussen, which will probably show something between tied and Romney +2, if past trends hold.

The only way you could weight those numbers to put Romney ahead would be to weight Rasmussen at 1.0 and every other poll at much closer to 0.

If Romney wins Ohio it probably means the professional polling industry made systematic errors. With the polls consistently showing a small difference, they even be minor systematic errors. The risk of systematic polling errors plus Ohio's reputation as a slightly right-of-center state is probably why Silver still forecasts Romney as winning Ohio one in five times.

If Silver gets it wrong it's more likely that he was fundamentally wrong in believing poll data rather than because he was simply partisan. And trusting poll data seems to make sense given that it's done a fairly decent job in recent history.

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hobsen
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If Nzte Silver is indeed deciding how much weight to give each poll subjectively, the criticism is justified. But I assumed the poll weighting was an automatic function of the election model he set running last June. That could have showed Romney leading, and right after the Denver debate I believe it did, but now it shows Romney with little chance.

What I do remember is Silver's action with respect to one poll - a Pennsylvania poll paid for by Pennsylvania Republicans which showed Romney leading by six points in the state, and which came out the same day my newspaper reported Romney had withdrawn all his campaign workers from Pennsylvania and conceded the state to Obama. Silver included it in his model at full value, even if Romney's action suggested even Romney's advisers did not believe it.

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AI Wessex
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It's pretty clear that the vote management in Ohio is corrupt and is being gamed for Romney. The story is only slowly developing but it is going to become a huge scandal for Republicans if Romney is declared the winner. Husted is the Ohio Secretary of State who tried to restrict early voting in Democrat areas of the state already, and has reduced the hours on each data that the early voting is allowed:
quote:
The Columbus Dispatch reported today that a data-sharing glitch and mistakes by election officials has caused thousands of absentee ballot requests to be rejected. While Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted maintains that this was a computer error, the Northeast Ohio Voter Advocates found an abnormally high rate of rejected absentee ballot requests in Cuyahoga County, a Democratic stronghold that includes Cleveland. The Cuyahoga Board of Elections determined that 865 ballot requests had been erroneously thrown out.

If these voters try to cast their vote in person, they will likely be forced to use a provisional ballot, as the absentee ballot error has thrown their registration status into question. At least 4,500 registered voters across the state will be left waiting for their absentee ballots, while as many as 6,000 provisional ballots cast by registered voters could be tossed out. The provisional ballots that do not get thrown out won’t be counted until November 17, according to state law, further dragging out the confusion.


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Wayward Son
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Criswell predicts: Ohio will be so close, it will need a recount, which won't be resolved until Dec. 21, 2012.

IOW, the Mayans were right after all. [Wink]

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Wayward Son
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Of course, even Criswell wasn't as loony as Glen Beck:

quote:
...[A]s he explained his theory yesterday that any poll showing that Romney and President Obama are tied in any state really means that Romney will win that state by three to six points, resulting in a landslide electoral vote victory of 321-217 for Romney, which "would be a mandate [and] a giant, giant spanking".
Criswell merely predicted that the world would end on Aug. 18, 1999. [Big Grin]
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G3
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quote:
Originally posted by Wayward Son:
quote:
Do you know where Silver works? Guess ...
So what? Does the place where you work influence how much we should trust your explanations and reasonings?
It can, Silver works for the NYT - one of the most liberal newspapers there is. Would he not be influenced by that environment? Do you know where Nate was before the NYT? He was a blogger for Daily Kos. I'm not saying that means he's intentionally biased on his numbers but he's pushing something that is a rather large statistical outlier and in evaluating this it may be smart to figure in where he's coming from. He could be right, and everyone else is wrong, sure, it could happen. What are the odds though?
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AI Wessex
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Who cares, really. We'll know soon enough whether you or he knows more about what's going on.
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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by AI Wessex:
Who cares, really. We'll know soon enough whether you or he knows more about what's going on.

Tuesday it is. [Wink]
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NobleHunter
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With our luck, we won't know until March.
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Wayward Son
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quote:
...he's pushing something that is a rather large statistical outlier...
Just out of curiosity, what do the other polls that you are familiar with say?

Nate currently predicts 50.5% for Obama and 48.4% to Romney of the popular vote.

He's projecting about 303.4 electorial votes to Obama (give or take).

He estimates Obama has an 80.9% chance of winning this election.

Meanwhile, RCP gives 47.5% for Obama and 47.2% for Romney of the national vote.

And RCP projects Obama getting 290 electorial votes, which is pretty close to what Nate projects.

What does everyone else say?

[ November 02, 2012, 12:21 PM: Message edited by: Wayward Son ]

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