Nate Silver is a polarizing figure, largely because he is a data-driven person and people tend to adhere to their biases instead of looking at the numbers. Silver took a lot of crap from pro-Hillary forces when in the days leading up to the election, Silver was still giving Donald Trump at 25%-30% chance of winning the election when others said Hillary’s chances were more like 95% or higher.
So it’s odd that Silver would float the theory that Clinton would have “certainly” won if not for the letter put out by FBI Director James Comey just ten days before the election. But in a series of tweets that’s what he says:
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) December 11, 2016
What impact? In the article he cites, Silver wrote:
The change corresponds with Clinton’s drop in the national popular-vote lead: from a 5.7-percentage-point lead in our estimate on Oct. 28 to a 2.9-point lead now — so a swing of about 3 points against her.
The problem with this theory is in that looking at the RCP average of the national vote, Clinton’s lead dropped by a full point from October 27th when it was 5.6% to 4.6% on October 28th — the same day Comey’s letter was released.
The polls continued to tighten until the day of the election when Clinton’s RCP average lead stood at 3.2%.
Her popular vote win is 2% which makes the national pollsters right when considering error margins. The view of Hillary and her emails was baked in way before October 28th. Considering the very slim margin Trump won by in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania that delivered him the electoral college win, it’s more likely the late break for Trump in those states was due more to the “change” factor than anything related to the FBI investigation.
Pointing the finger at Comey makes for a sexier news story than economic angst. Looking at it from a practical matter, it doesn’t seem to fit that Comey’s letter on October 28th was that catalyst for some voters to say, “That’s it. I am voting for Trump!” and for others to say, “That’s it! I am sitting this one out and not voting for Hillary!”
The numbers just don’t add up to that scenario.