Published On: Mon, Nov 24th, 2014

Political Fortune Teller Nate Silver Does Football, Too


Nate Silver, best known for his stunningly accurate predictions of the results in the 2012 US Presidential elections, is also predicting sports these days. He has just listed his picks for the top rankings in college football this year.

Silver’s 1, 2 and three are all the same as the national rankings, Alabama, Oregon and Florida State respectively. But his number 4 pick, Ohio State, supplanted the current nationally ranked number 4 Mississippi State which fell to number 8 on Silver’s list.

If Mr. Silver’s talent for political predictions which has made him into a modern day Nostradamus can be translated into sports, then American gamblers should be betting that his rankings are correct.

Silver also appeared at Duke University’s Zeidman Colloquium on Politics and the Press which was held on Saturday where he took part in a panel discussion.

Political pundits and pollsters across America had all predicted a big win for the Republican Party in the midterm elections held there two weeks ago. But the results were a far bigger victory for the GOP then was expected.

When asked about that Silver said, ““At FiveThirtyEight (his organization) we emphasize that we are making forecasts that have the uncertainty built in, and the uncertainty can be considerable, ” Silver said. “If you’re making your 70-30 calls, you’re supposed to get those wrong 30 percent of the time. Not only will you, but you’re supposed to or you’ve done something wrong.”

When asked about it in an interview with Duke University paper The Chronicle Silver said. ”Our job is to describe the range of outcomes that can happen in an uncertain world. I think we did a really good job of that. We had the single most likely outcome as being 53 Republican seats [in the Senate]. It’ll wind up being 53 or 54, depending on Louisiana. But that had a range around it a range around it where if Republicans did even a little bit better than their polls, then they could easily win 54 or 55 seats. You’re supposed to also have 10 percent of the cases where you do have an error outside of the 90 percent confidence interval.… You’re supposed to have, if you’re making 70 calls between governor and senate races, you’re supposed to have seven of those [be incorrect] if you’re describing the uncertainty properly.”

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