In the aftermath of the US presidential election, polling guru Nate Silver has been enjoying widespread plaudits having called the outcome in each of the fifty states correctly. However, it’s worth remembering that with the 2010 General Election in the UK, Silver didn’t do quite so well.
In the run up to election day, Silver anticipated heavy losses for Labour, and big gains for the Liberal Democrats. One of his predictions had Nick Clegg’s party with 101 seats — a gain of 39. Of course, what actually happened was that the yellow party lost five seats, in an anticlimactic comedown from “Cleggmania”.
And whilst Labour suffered a bruising defeat, their final total of 258 seats wasn’t quite as bad as Nate Silver had indicated. His doom-mongering calculations had Labour on 214. So there are 44 red MPs feeling very grateful that he wasn’t right.
On his FiveThirtyEight blog, Silver wrote:
“its very hard to see how [Labour] could thread the needle in such a way that the outcome wouldn’t be devastating to them.”
Scrapbook wonders whether “Mystic Nate” can do better in 2015.
Mitt Romney’s prospects in the US elections have taken another blow, with president Obama pulling away in polling. In the 12 national surveys of voting intention published yesterday, the incumbent led by an average of 1.6 percent, gaining ground in all but one:
While Romney still has the chance to win the popular vote, the odds of him securing backing in the electoral college look to be fading, with the statistical model used by leading pollster Nate Silver putting him at just 8.0%:
As Jay-Z told a rally in Columbus, Ohio yesterday: “I got 99 problems but a Mitt ain’t one.”
Obama has an almost nine in ten chance of winning the US election. Nate Silver, whose Five Thirty Eight polling blog is published by the New York Times, predicted Obama an 86.3% chance of winning today – up 11.7% since the end of October.
Though the figures from Silver’s model of the electoral college differ from other pollsters, he has form: he correctly predicted 49 out of 50 states in the previous 2008 election and all of the 35 senate races. In a recent blogpost, Silver explained his reason for calling Obama the favourite despite the popular vote seeing a difference of only 2.1%:
“The argument that Mr. Obama isn’t the favorite is the one that requires more finesse. If you take the polls at face value, then the popular vote might be a tossup, but the Electoral College favors Mr. Obama.”
For example, RealClearPolitics have compiled an average of polls from 22nd October to the 4th November and are calling it much closer, with Obama at 47.9 and Romney at 47.4, leaving only a 0.5 gap between them.
Polls close in eastern states from 11pm UK time tomorrow.