If Mitt Romney wins on election day, it doesn’t mean Silver’s model was wrong. After all, the model has been fluctuating between giving Romney a 25 percent and 40 percent chance of winning the election. That’s a pretty good chance! If you told me I had a 35 percent chance of winning a million dollars tomorrow, I’d be excited. And if I won the money, I wouldn’t turn around and tell you your information was wrong. I’d still have no evidence I’d ever had anything more than a 35 percent chance.I wouldn't get on a plane if you told me it had a 25% chance of crashing, either. Would you?
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.If you sincerely believe that numbers guys are actually just in the can for Obama, get thyself over to Intrade and put your money where your mouth is. If you buy shares in Romney right now at ~$3.66, you can nearly triple your money by this time next week if he wins.
Funny how nobody seems to be doing enough of that to move the prediction markets further away from Silver et al.
Finally, a little self-awareness from Mr. Klein:
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.