Pollster Bro Nate Silver Has a Profane Meltdown Over Questioning of His Snake Oil

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at Pittsburgh-Butler Regional Airport, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020, in Butler, Pa. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Pollster bro Nate Silver is really, really mad that people are making fun of his ridiculous polling averages and bad predictions from the 2020 cycle. He gave Donald Trump a 10% chance of winning the election, and though he may be right on that, he was pretty far off on the projected margin, the probabilities of outcomes (i.e. landslide or not), and how the down ballot races would go.


(see Election Day’s Biggest Losers: Poll Analyst Bros, and They Should Never Work Again)

Also, a hat tip to The Federalist’s Ben Domenech for the brilliant phrase “pollster bro,” because that’s an absolutely killer way to describe these people.

“I do want to ask about polling, because I think I would be virtually decapitated on Twitter if I didn’t get into this,” podcast moderator Galen Druke said about 20 minutes into the group’s discussion, raising the significant polling errors in states like Florida and Wisconsin. “The pitchforks are already coming for the pollsters and the prognosticators,” Druke said, asking his boss to address the “rage” that has been directed his way over the past 24 hours.

“If they’re coming after FiveThirtyEight, then the answer is fuck you, we did a good job!” Silver replied…

What a great argument, right? Objectively, FiveThirtyEight did an awful job. Their curated polling averages were way, way off the mark, to the point where they’d have been better had they not curated them at all (like Real Clear Politics). That’s what makes FiveThirtyEight actually responsible for how terrible their analysis is. They don’t get to just brush it off as bad data. If they were just raw data tabulating, that would be one thing, but Nate Silver routinely trashes certain pollsters like Trafalgar, who were the most accurate in all the swing states this cycle again, while giving top ratings to garbage polls like Quinnipiac and Morning Consult. In other words, he’s clearly picking and choosing for the purpose of pushing a narrative.


And look, I don’t want to hear about his percentages. I can look at polls and throw out a percentage chance each candidate has. That does not make Silver some kind of all seeing eye that can predict accurate probabilities of the future. On Tuesday night, he gave Trump only a 31% chance of winning Florida, a state that even the most lax of political watchers could have said favored Trump. The national election also ended up off by 7-14 points depending on what polls you look at. That was the “data” that Silver used to come up with all his grand predictions and probabilities. If garbage data is used, the results end up garbage.

In the end, Silver is a grifter. He’s taking inaccurate information, attempting to curate and massage it, and then presenting it is authoritative. Instead of having some humility when he misses the mark, you get profane rants like the above because he always attempts to play both sides. He is not “right” because he gave some small probability to Trump in Florida or North Carolina. Any idiot can do that and say they weren’t wrong no matter who wins. There is no usefulness in that. Silver’s type of analysis is snake oil, and it and should be cast into the abyss going forward.


(Please follow me on Twitter! @bonchieredstate)


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