Nate Silver does a victory lap

Nate Silver's website the morning of Election Day.

Now that we’re done with evaluating the media’s fascination with polls and the horse race of presidential campaigns, which seem to prevent many substantive stories about candidates from rising above the noise, let’s talk about another important election day component that is obsessed with politics as sport: You.

Nate Silver was on The Daily Show last night, taking something of a victory lap because he wasn’t as wrong as the other statistical wizards when it came to predicting the race for president.

But make no mistake, Silver was wrong. He was wrong the entire race. He was wrong the day before the election. He was wrong when Florida went for Trump.

Now the statistical experts will tell you he wasn’t wrong because he gave Trump a chance of winning and that’s the way numbers work. And that’s true. Silver wasn’t wrong because he never said Donald Trump couldn’t win.

But that’s not the way people use numbers and that’s where those obsessed with numbers — people who have turned politics into a fantasy football game — come in.

“I am confused by why people in America are so obsessed with the polls,” Trevor Noah commented.

Here’s the full clip, which you should watch while you consider this question: Why do you find Silver’s predictions valuable in your role in the democratic process? Other than entertainment, what does it contribute to the need for an informed electorate?


Silver tried to claim that his service to America cautions it not to take anything for granted.

But, if you believe some analysts — and why would you? — many people didn’t turn out to vote because they looked at Silver’s work and figured Clinton could win without their help. If true, how is that not a form of voter suppression?

Silver similarly predicted the Chicago Cubs would win the World Series but if the Cleveland Indians had won, he wouldn’t have been wrong, the theory goes. Tell that to the bookies, son.

What he should have said is politics isn’t a game, don’t pay attention to him, don’t pay any attention to the polls, and don’t spend your time factoring into your evaluation of the candidates how anyone else intends to vote.