Nate Silver has his usual spin on outrageously absurd election outcome odds:
President Obama is now better than a 4-in-5 favorite to win the Electoral College, according to the FiveThirtyEight forecast. His chances of winning it increased to 83.7 percent on Friday, his highest figure since the Denver debate and improved from 80.8 percent on Thursday.
He shows a bunch of polls from a murder’s row of bad polling where Obama is leading and maps out three arguments where they could be wrong. After arguing and dismissing the first two he concludes:
That leaves only the final source of polling error, which is the potential that the polls might simply have been wrong all along because of statistical bias.
You don’t say!
The FiveThirtyEight forecast accounts for this possibility…I do not mean to imply that the polls are biased in Mr. Obama’s favor. But there is the chance that they could be biased in either direction…My argument, rather, is this: we’ve about reached the point where if Mr. Romney wins, it can only be because the polls have been biased against him. Almost all of the chance that Mr. Romney has in the FiveThirtyEight forecast, about 16 percent to win the Electoral College, reflects this possibility.
Silver makes such pronouncements with outlandish statistical weights as if it is nearly unbelievable that the poll results could be wrong. One of the main purposes of this blog was to look at the exact same polls, analyze the internal data and test whether the poll data match up with the poll results. We found that time after time after time the results unequivocally do not match up with the internal data. Thanks to Sean Davis, we are reminded this was the identical situation only 2 years ago is probably the highest profile race where a deeply unpopular Senate Majority leader was behind in nearly every poll yet still won.
Out of 14 polls between October 1 and election day, Sharon Angle led in 12 of those polls. Her average lead on election day according to Real Clear Politics was +2.6. She lost by -5.6 points — an 8.2 point swing. The polls were not just wrong, but WAY wrong. Could anyone analyzing the internals of these polls see this? Why yes they could. But even in the highest profile contest of the cycle, almost no one did such an analysis. The few who did, Democrat pollster Mark Mellman, Republican pollster Glen Bolger and liberal reporter/columnist Jon Ralston, all consistently said the polls were wrong — and each was largely ignored until proven correct on election day. Why did they know this? Because they looked at the data in the polls and said the internal information does not reflect the top-line results and the Nevada electorate on election day will not reflect what these polls are indicating. They were right and the polls were wrong … by A LOT.
Today we have an identical dichotomy where the stat gurus like Nate Silver say Obama has an 84% chance of winning because that is what the top-line poll numbers tell him. Nate Silver called the Nevada Senate race incorrectly because the poll data was wrong. His accuracy is predicated on accurate polls. Mountains of evidence says today’s Presidential polls are equally as wrong as the Nevada Senate polls.
Critics of the polls on the Right, like myself, of whom even Silver concedes offer “intellectually coherent” critiques say the results on November 6 will be very different. Maybe Nate Silver is correct and Barack Obama will be re-elected President on November 6. But any analysis of the data in those same state polls he relies on says the voting preference of Independents, the increased turnout of Republicans, the decreased turnout of Democrats, the change in favor of Republicans in early voting, Romney’s favorability on the election’s top issue (economy) and numerous other factors will result in President Romney on November 6. United States Senator Sharon Angle from Nevada may disagree.