Published On: Wed, Nov 9th, 2016

Nate Silver’s 538 Is Screwed


Is Nate Silver’s 538 finished? Many feel that way considering how much it screwed up its elections forecasts.

Five Thirty consistently gave Hillary Clinton a wide lead, getting up to almost a 90% chance of victory at one point. Even last week when she seemed to be in trouble, 538 still gave Clinton more that a 60% chance of winning. And at the end they still gave her a 71% chance of winning.


So what went wrong for Nate Silver? The wunderkind made his mark in the last two Presidential elections by just about predicting everything right in 2008 and 2012.

So who does Nate Silver blame for this debacle? The polls of course.

This is what Nate Silver posted on his blog yesterday before the polls closed:

“Throughout the election, our forecast models have consistently come to two conclusions. First, that Hillary Clinton was more likely than not to become the next president. And second, that the range of possible Electoral College outcomes — including the chance of a Donald Trump victory, but also a Clinton landslide that could see her winning states such as Arizona — was comparatively wide.

“That remains our outlook today in our final forecast of the year.”

Geoff Garin, a veteran Democratic pollster who worked for the pro-Clinton super PAC Priorities USA, explained to Politico why the polls got it so wrong. He said, “There was too great a belief that demographics are destiny, and that demographics would lead to a certain outcome. The reality turned out to be much different that.”

This means that pollsters everywhere will need to change their models for how they gather information.

As for Nate Silver, he has been silent so far about his blog’s failure. And people will clearly not be going back to Five Thirty Eight any time soon for any predictions whether they are about politics or sports or even the weather.

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