Mr. Silver’s Very Bad Week – 11.6.20

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These are difficult times.  Mookie Betts has just won a World Series, but not for the Red Sox.  Tom Brady looks like he’s heading back to the Super Bowl, but not for the Patriots.  And, to stop the spread of the virus, the Governor has just decreed that you cannot go to a zoo after 9:30.  At night.  In November.  Yeah, that ought to do it.

The good news?  You’re not Nate Silver.  Mr. Silver runs a progressive polling-related organization that was right once in 2012.  Nate relies heavily upon the presumption that, if you are really nerdy, you must be really smart. 

Apparently, the methodology used by Nate is talking with the select few who both answer their landlines before the fax machine picks up and then talk to perfect strangers.  You know, the people who fund Nigerian princes who are temporarily short on cash.  What could go wrong?

Well, it turns out that Nate’s pre-election polling data was spectacularly wrong, again.  Of course, if being spectacularly wrong mattered to progressives, Al Gore wouldn’t have a Nobel Prize.  But living is learning, and there are some things Nate could do for next time:

Poll the staff at The Atlantic.  Sure, 95% of the staff of that progressive magazine would be backing whichever Democratic candidate.  But only 95%.  Which would mean the results of that survey could be more reliable than what we saw last week.

Next time he wants to get a handle on where Michigan is going, call everyone named Karen in Dearborn.  The best time for those calls would be late night, obviously.  In fact, the later they were called, the more likely the Karens would be inclined to share their thoughts.  And they probably wouldn’t be at a zoo.

Invest in quarters.  When flipped correctly, a good one can be right half the time.  And a bad one is only wrong about half the time.  Sure, it doesn’t sound scientific, but if he wore particularly nerdy glasses and used the word “methodology” a lot, there are those who may take the results seriously.  And why not, they took Nate seriously, until this week. 

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