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Nate Silver Does Not Appear to Have Learned Much of Anything
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In a post attempting to explain why voters choose Trump, Nate Silver–who was wildly off the mark on Trump’s chances (see here, here, here, and here to observe a rank amateur kicking him up and down the road)–offers nothing close to a genuine mea culpa for having gotten the Republican nomination so wrong.

He did concede that voters “are more tribal than [he] thought”.

Better to understand that late than never, I guess. Tribalism is only going to get stronger.

Silver also wrote that the GOP was weaker than he thought.

Republican favorability has been on the steady decline over the last couple of decades. It enjoyed a little jump from 34% to 37% between July and October of last year, an uptick that is, to the extent it is real, is probably due to the Trump phenomenon.

Finally, he chided the media for giving Trump too much free publicity.

Having spent his adult life as a high-profile New York celebrity, Trump knows how to play the game. Any of the other candidates could’ve conceivably received a similar amount of coverage–but that would require being as persistently entertaining and exciting as Trump is. It is hardly the media’s fault that Trump has the personality traits and news-making savvy that he does.

One of the funnier exchanges in the primaries took place between Cruz and Anderson Cooper:

Via Steve Sailer, note that Silver made only a single passing and unreflective reference to immigration even though Trump has made it a foundation of his campaign and has utterly dominated among voters who list the issue as a top priority. Mil-Tech Bard notes a total absence of the word “terror” in Silver’s expalanation (even as Trump persistently brought up San Bernandino and Paris and ridiculed Obama for refusing to use the phrase “Islamic terrorism”).

I’ll add that “endorsement” is a no-show also a no-show in Silver’s piece. He put enormous influence on political endorsements. 538 maintained an endorsement primary that initially had ¡Jabe! on top of the Republican field. Then after he dropped out after failing to catch fire the endorsements moved to Rubio. After Rubio crashed and burned they moved to Cruz. Finally, after Trump dispatched Cruz, they… well, as of May 6 the only man left standing is still way behind in the endorsement count. Not only is Trump trailing Rubio and Cruz, he’s even losing to Kasich.

Silver’s polls-plus forecast gives bonus points for endorsements, something that has lead to embarrassing misses like Indiana, where 538 put Hillary’s chances of winning the state at 90%. Silver should scrap this. This election cycle is one in which endorsements aren’t moving the needle much at all. In many cases they’re curses rather than blessings for the candidates who receive them.

(Republished from The Audacious Epigone by permission of author or representative)
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  1. Silver's polls-plus forecast gives bonus points for endorsements, something that has lead to embarrassing misses like Indiana, where 538 put Hillary's chances of winning the state at 90%. Silver should scrap this. This election cycle is one in which endorsements aren't moving the needle much at all. In many cases they're curses rather than blessings for the candidates who receive them.

    Politicians like donors like to endorse winners so they can bank the favor. Endorsements are a good indication of what political professionals think an election is going to look like.

    I'm not sure if Silver ever thought that endorsements moved the needle but were an independent measurement outside polls of what experts thought would happen. Who knows though – maybe he did think it was the other way around.

    Trump pretty obviously is an exception because he's not part of the game – the favor bank as Tom Wolfe described its local manifestation in New York in Bonfire of the Vanities.

  2. Tony says:

    People quickly want to forget that the media gave Trump lots of attention with the expectation that he'd be a flash in the pan and self destruct sooner rather than later. The media created Trump only inadvertently because it turned out he was smarter than them. Contrast that with how the media created Obama, which they were very happy to do, and enjoy the schadenfreude.

  3. Steve,

    Right, but that isn't a license to disregard everything else. After Iowa, New Hampshire, and at the very latest South Carolina, Silver should've calibrated accordingly. The endorsements weren't telling us anything. Instead he was content to continue running a formula that doesn't work.


    With relish I recall many smug SWPLs that I know saying early on how they hoped Trump would run third party and that it was good that he was challenging the party consensus. They assumed he'd do a little sabotaging and then harmlessly fade away.


  4. Anonymous [AKA "Bobby Farr"] says:

    Well, Silver is a foreigner and obviously won't be a fan of America First. When faced with rise of a philosophy this antithetical to him ad his ilk, he is probably best understood as a propagandist rather than as an analyst who is genuinely trying to predict outcomes.

  5. Audacious Epigone,

    Nate Silver's prediction model failed because it did not include the effects of real leadership on the political campaign or the culture

    Leadership is all about taking calculated risks to persuading your followers to go where you want to go.

    Modern campaigning — as taught by the political consultant class and taken by Ailver as mother's milk — is about two things

    1. Raising money, AKA "The Plutocrat Primary".

    2. Risk avoidance, AKA "The NFL prevent defense prevents you from winning."

    Trump repeatedly took calculated risks with immigration, trade and especially connecting Muslim culture to terrorism from the attack Paris to San Bernadino through the Calone, Germany New Year's sexual assaults.

    Trump could take risks to lead, to place himself on the popular side of the American GOP primary voter, on those issues because have to win the plutocrat fund raising campaign before the political campaign.

    Saying that "Trump moved the Overton window" is the fancy way of saying "Trump lead." He lead by putting into words what was in the hearts and minds of the American people, past the political and media gatekeepers.

    "Putting into words what was in the hearts and minds of the American people" was Ronald Reagan's gift.

    Trump has that gift in full measure plus another characteristic all his own. Trump has a true taste for blood in political combat that Reagan did not. In this PC era, that too heartens his brow beaten middle-class white followers.

    Trump is going to need that taste for political blood versus the Clinton plus MSM political machine.

  6. Nate Silver's amazing accuracy before was due to money and politics. His picks revolved not around polls that others use, but following and counting the money. Before Trump, money won elections, plain and simple. Jeb was the favorite cause he had the biggest "war chest" or bribes. Trump didn't even need ads. Immigration was his issue and even Cruz dropped it when the jews said boo to his accountant. Immigration is the only issue now.
    Tribalism is a cute dog whistle to Whites that its "racist" to support themselves and they have to atone for freeing the slaves from the hook-nosed moneylenders.

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