And Silver is uncannily accurate.
What makes you figure he's biased? From what I've seen of Silver's model it is much more balanced than any of the individual polls released over the course of the campaign; this is particularly evident when you look at how it is compiled. It is certainly more "scientific" than any punditry being thrown around.
That said, I would agree that any forecast is just that - a forecast. It provides a look at one possible result and does not constitute a result in and of itself.
The accuracy of his November 2008 presidential election predictions—he correctly predicted the winner of 49 of the 50 states—won Silver further attention and commendation. The only state he missed was Indiana, which went for Barack Obama by 1%. He also correctly predicted the winner of all 35 Senate races that year.
In April 2009, he was named one of The World's 100 Most Influential People by Time magazine.
As Ezra Klein writes in his Washington Post blog (and he has had considered critiques of Nate Silver's modelling and system in the past):
First, there are the conservatives who don’t like Silver’s model because, well, they don’t like it. Obama’s continued strong showing is prima facie evidence of bias. Or, to put it slightly differently, the model must be skewed.
The answer to this is simple enough: If Silver’s model is systematically biased, there’s a market opportunity for anyone who wants to build a better model. That person would stand to gain hugely if they outpredicted punditry’s reigning forecaster (not to mention all the betting markets and all the other forecasters). The math behind what Silver is doing isn’t that complicated and the polls are easily available. But so far, the most popular conservative take on the polls was UnskewedPolls.com, to which … LOL. If Silver’s model is so easy to best, then what’s the market failure keeping a less-biased source from besting it?
Then there’s the backlash from more traditional media figures. Some of the arguments here have been downright weird, as when Politico’s Josh Gerstein wrote, “Isn’t the basic problem with the Nate Silver prediction in question, and the critique, that it puts a percentage on a one-off event?” Or when Politico’s Jonathan Martin wrote, “Avert your gaze, liberals: Nate Silver admits he’s simply averaging public polls and there is no secret sauce.” Or when Politico’s Dylan Byers wrote, “So should Mitt Romney win on Nov. 6, it’s difficult to see how people can continue to put faith in the predictions of someone who has never given that candidate anything higher than a 41 percent chance of winning.”
Come to think of it, a lot of the odder critiques of Silver have been coming out of Politico. But that makes a kind of sense. Silver’s work poses a threat to more traditional — and, in particular, to more excitable — forms of political punditry and horse-race journalism.
If you had to distill the work of a political pundit down to a single question, you’d have to pick the perennial “who will win the election?” During election years, that’s the question at the base of most careers in punditry, almost all cable news appearances, and most A1 news articles. Traditionally, we’ve answered that question by drawing on some combination of experience, intuition, reporting and polls. Now Silver — and Silver’s imitators and political scientists — are taking that question away from us. It would be shocking if the profession didn’t try and defend itself.
More recently, we in the media — and particularly we in the media at Politico — have tried to grab an edge in the race for Web traffic by hyping our election stories far beyond their actual importance. The latest gaffe is always a possible turning point, the momentum is always swinging wildly, the race is endlessly up in the air. It thus presents a bit of a problem for us if our readers then turn to sites like Silver’s and find that none of this actually appears to be true and a clear-eyed look at the data shows a fairly stable race over long periods of time.
My guess is Silver and his successors will win this one, if only because, for all the very real shortcomings of models, election forecasters have better incentives than homepage editors. For instance, note that all these attacks on Silver take, as their starting point, Silver’s continuously updated prediction for the presidential election, which includes point estimates for the popular vote and electoral college, and his predictions for the Senate races. Those predictions let readers check Silver’s track record and they force Silver, if he wants to keep his readers’ trust, to make his model as accurate as he can. That’s a good incentive structure — certainly a better one than much of the rest of the media has — and my guess is his results, over time, will prove it. http://www.washingto...ilver-backlash/