[And] they weren't prioritizing deficit reduction over other economic concerns. The public was still placing a higher priority on jobs and the economic recovery. When you listened to the rhetoric of the campaign — and certainly the discussion from the Republican candidates — I think it gave the impression that the American public was prioritizing deficit reduction and that there was actually a debate among the public about whether taxes should or shouldn't be a part of that. There's not much debate. And I think that's the kind of texture that was missed and I think that goes a long way to explaining why Obama was able to win an election despite the headwinds he faced.
DID YOU SEE IN NATE SILVER'S WRITING, AND THAT OF OTHER AGGREGATORS, AN APPRECIATION FOR THE RELATIVE INSIGNIFICANCE OF SMALL MOVEMENTS IN THE POLLS? IS IT POSSIBLE THAT WE, AS CONSUMERS, ARE TO BLAME — THAT WE JUST READ TOO MUCH INTO THE SMALL SHIFTS IN OPINION? I do think that the folks at the front of this — like Silver and Jackman — are really smart people. One thing I appreciate about what they've done is that they've actually put a lot of thought into it. They don't treat all polls equally. They understand that some polls have better track records than others.
And I think that, because they're so deep into it — when Nate Silver says that Barack Obama has a 62 percent chance of winning in Ohio or something like that, he doesn't think of that as that definitive of a statement. It's just the number that comes out of his model. Heck, for Romney to have a 38 percent chance of winning isn't bad in a statistical sense. But part of that is what gets lost in translation. People see it and they think, "wow, Nate Silver is saying Obama is going to win." I think people are probably over-interpreting what Silver and Jackman and people like that even want to say.
SHOULD SILVER AND JACKMAN KNOW THAT'S A RISK? SHOULD THEY ADJUST SOMEHOW? I'm sympathetic to the bind that puts them in. They don't want to have to put a thousand qualifiers on every number that they put up there. They feel like they're trying to be straightforward about how they're producing their numbers.
Like it or don't like it, [aggregation] is around, and in some respects, I'm glad there are smart people doing it. It's just, from my perspective, it distracts from the other values that polls provide by making this sort of hyper-sensitive focus on just the horse race
: This Just In
, Nate Silver, Polls, statistics