[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

< prev  1  |  2  | 
Related: Tyme fer moore lernin’, An angry electorate? Eh, whatever, Reader reactions to the Portland Phoenix endorsements, More more >
  Topics: This Just In , Nate Silver, Polls, statistics
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   LIBERAL WARRIOR  |  April 10, 2013
    When it comes to his signature issues — climate change, campaign finance reform, tax fairness — Whitehouse makes little secret of his approach: marshal the facts, hammer the Republicans, and embarrass them into action.
    A key Brown University oversight committee has voted to recommend the school divest from coal, delivering a significant victory to student climate change activists.
  •   HACKING POLITICS: A GUIDE  |  April 03, 2013
    Last year, the Internet briefly upended everything we know about American politics.
  •   BREAK ON THROUGH  |  March 28, 2013
    When I spoke with Treasurer Gina Raimondo this week, I opened with the obligatory question about whether she'll run for governor. "I'm seriously considering it," she said. "But I think as you know — we've talked about it before — I have little kids: a six-year-old, an eight-year-old. I'm a mother. It's a big deal."
  •   THE LIBERAL CASE FOR GUNS  |  March 27, 2013
    The school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut spurred hope not just for sensible gun regulation, but for a more nuanced discussion of America's gun culture. Neither wish has been realized.

 See all articles by: DAVID SCHARFENBERG