Nate Silver and 538: The Little Shop of Hacks
Bill Quick

Marco Rubio’s Problem Isn’t What You Think It Is | FiveThirtyEight

It’s not clear why Rubio has fallen. The decline in his popularity among adults corresponds almost perfectly with his push for immigration reform; his largest drop occurred in June as the Senate was debating comprehensive changes to U.S. policy. I wouldn’t argue that pushing for immigration reform made Rubio unpopular, but it did give him a lot of press. FiveThirtyEight has previously said that Rubio’s ideology ranks as quite conservative. It’s possible that Americans learned more about Rubio than just his views on immigration during that period.

538 has  been trying to establish itself as a player by virtue of Nate Silver’s strong predictive performance in the 2012 election cycle, and by claiming to be “objective” and “scientific” in its analysis.

As to Silver’s polling prowess, I’ll need to see how he does over time.  One election does not a genius make.  And as to the second, the cite above demonstrates that we can expect a major fail on the “unbiased” front. 

The author kicks things off by stating that it’s “not clear” why Rubio’s numbers have fallen.

He then goes on to say, “…the decline in his popularity among adults corresponds almost perfectly with his push for immigration reform; his largest drop occurred in June as the Senate was debating comprehensive changes to U.S. policy.”  I would add that it also corresponded with an almost universal wave of repulsion among the very conservatives he was depending on for his political future.

Now, I understand that correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation, but it can certainly provide a thesis the requires further testing, to wit:  Did Rubio’s massive flip-flop on illegal immigration and scamnesty cause the plunge in his approval/disapproval ratio?  And did the analysts at 538 do anything to test this thesis, (which goes against the favored pro-illegal alien narrative on the left)?

No, of course not.  Faced with an almost “perfect” correlation, the author immediately brushes off any possibility that it might constitute a thesis worth further investigation:  “I wouldn’t argue that pushing for immigration reform made Rubio unpopular, but it did give him a lot of press.”

Why wouldn’t you make that argument, oh “objective and unbiased” analyst for 538?   Why instead would you ignore that argument entirely, in favor of a laughable thesis entirely unsupported by the “perfect” correlation?

“FiveThirtyEight has previously said that Rubio’s ideology ranks as quite conservative. It’s possible that Americans learned more about Rubio than just his views on immigration during that period.”

So that’s the 538 narrative:  Rubio’s collapse among conservatives was caused by conservatives finding out that he was a conservative.

There was a time when I thought Silver’s operation might actually have some promise.  But it is becoming rapidly obvious that it will be just another lefty propaganda operation, as biased and dishonest as any of the pollsters Silver often excoriates for similar sins.

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Bill Quick

About Bill Quick

I am a small-l libertarian. My primary concern is to increase individual liberty as much as possible in the face of statist efforts to restrict it from both the right and the left. If I had to sum up my beliefs as concisely as possible, I would say, "Stay out of my wallet and my bedroom," "your liberty stops at my nose," and "don't tread on me." I will believe that things are taking a turn for the better in America when married gays are able to, and do, maintain large arsenals of automatic weapons, and tax collectors are, and do, not.

Comments

Nate Silver and 538: The Little Shop of Hacks — 10 Comments

  1. As to Silver’s polling prowess, I’ll need to see how he does over time. One election does not a genius make.

    You know what Silver does, right? Monte Carlo simulations of what looks to be the average of all the existing polls. I can do the same thing in Excel and generate a result within a small fraction of his numbers. It’s a good method for baseball stats-where he got his start- but somewhat less good for politics.

    Why do I say this, considering how he did in 2012? Because Every 10-15 years pollsters have to come up with new methodology to account for new things, such as the abandonment of land lines, polls via the Internet, that sort of thing. I believe that 1996 showed a problem with polling, when only one-Zogby- came close to the final result. Almost everyone else had a double digit+ Clinton win. And now in 2012, the divergence between state polls and national polls never disappeared. Typically, on election day, the state voting numbers would shift to more closely mirror the results of the national polls. In 2012, this did not happen, which is why astute political observers were somewhat surprised when Romney didn’t win, as that result overwhelmed decades of presidential election experience. So I’m still curious as to why those numbers never converged. There is some evidence that maybe the numbers would have converged if, umm, the votes were on the up and up in PA and FL. Maybe locking observers out for a few hours from some polling precincts, or 150% turnout in others (not including areas that went 100% for Obama without a single Romney vote) could have been part of the problem.

    Romney was -is- a good man, but a terrible candidate and he would have been a terrible president. To be fair, terrible would have been a great improvement. But I’m somewhat suspicious that the actual counting of votes in 2012 was subject to some willful bias.

    • But I’m somewhat suspicious that the actual counting of votes in 2012 was subject to some willful bias.

      Yah, I’ve been saying that for about a year and a half now. Mostly my statements are ignored but sometimes I’m called a sore loser, a conspiracy theorist, or even -gasp- a racist.

      About that middle one, though… considering that all, for all practical purposes, vote fraud and “unintentional mistakes” slant toward the Dems, it sure looks like a conspiracy. This is similar to the observation that it’s not paranoia if they really are out to get you.

      • I think there’s a good bit to your suspicions, Steve. I’m not sure it’s as big as you think it is – mostly because naked theft only works in fairly close elections, where sometimes the vote guardians are a republican administration, but yeah, sure. That clown from Minnesota wouldn’t be in office today without the vote stealing.

  2. Think of the tech angle to all of this. No longer do they need to randomly steal large numbers of votes in many different states just to be “sure”. Now they can target certain districts in certain states , reduce the overall number of fraudulent votes, be more effective and still have a margin of safety.

  3. When you have Google and other tech teams providing the demographic number crunching ability both leading up to, and in real time on, election day coupled with the NSA/IRS and other gov orgs providing a bunch of metadata, how hard can it be?

    Not much of a “conspiracy” either consider the tech guys were open about their work with the Dem operatives and the revelations about the NSA and IRS, facts which are undisputed. Just put 2 and 2 together.

    It’s actually the Occam’s Razor answer when you think about it.

    Like SteveF always says though; if it ain’t close they can’t steal it. Romney as a candidate never had a prayer of pulling a Reagan, for reasons discussed on this blog many times in the last 18 months.

    • Like SteveF always says though; if it ain’t close they can’t steal it.

      Not quite. I think Bill is the one who says that. Mine is more cynical: if it’s close enough to steal, it’ll be stolen.

    • Romney couldn’t win because he had Romneycare hanging around his shoulders.

      Jeb Bush can’t win because he has George Bush hanging around his shoulders.

      I say this now, so it won’t come as a shock when you hear it in the post-mortems after the Dems hold the White House in 2016.