Predicting the election

The day Barack Obama won the US election I wrote about how I struggle to deal with the stress of the unknown and it would have been great to have a big old spoiler in front of the whole thing telling me who won, such as appeared at the start of Season 7 of the West Wing.

Apparently such a thing did actually exist, in the forecasting of one Nate Silver, a US statistician who correctly predicted the outcome of the election with substantial accuracy. The first I heard of this chap was reading Twitter on Wednesday morning and seeing people congratulating him. I read a little more and gathered that he had taken a fair amount of flak from Republicans who didn’t like what he was saying. A couple of weeks before the election a disgruntled right winger by the name of Dean Chambers wrote a piece about how Silver was going to be wrong, and making some rather homophobic comments into the bargain.

Yesterday Chambers apologised for the nature of these comments. Well, he apologised, but spent half of this follow up piece quoting some other bloke who had made uncomplimentary comments about him. Not that it matters. He is still apologising because that’s the kind of decent upstanding guy he is. Even if the other side started it. Which he isn’t saying they did. But he’s still apologising, so there!

(As apologies go this reminds me rather of this editorial I read a couple of months back about the startling inept efforts of Andrew Mitchell to regain public support after pleb-gate.)

However the thing that really interested me was Chambers has managed to make this all about his slur on Silver’s appearance. It therefore doesn’t engage with the slurs he made on Silver’s integrity, intelligence or capability. “He [Silver] gives Obama a 73.4 percent chance of winning Ohio, which is downright absurd…” Except that it wasn’t absurd in the slightest. Obama did win Ohio, admittedly with a smaller percentage than Silver had predicted, but he was still way closer to the mark than Chambers.

Elsewhere it was a bad night for Karl Rove who seems to have taken a leaf out of Cornelius Fudge’s book of how to handle stuff you don’t want to believe is true. Courtesy of Jon Stewart I got to see Fox anchor Megyn Kelly asking Rove “Is this just math that you do as Republican to make yourself feel better or is this real?” Says it all really.

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