Nate Silver

  • Aired:  11/07/12
  •  | Views: 214,580

Lord and god of the algorithm Nate Silver explains how his election forecasts got it right, and why others got it wrong. (6:13)

>> Jon: MY GUEST TONIGHT IS THE FOUNDER THE "NEW YORK TIMES" POLITICAL BLOG, PLEASE WELCOME

BACK TO THE PROGRAM, MR. NATE SILVER.

( CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ) ♪ ♪ ♪ NICE TO SEE YOU AGAIN.

>> THANK YOU, JON.

>> Jon: SO, OBVIOUSLY, I THINK WITH THE ELECTION RESULTS LAST NIGHT, DO YOU WANT TO OFFER

AN APOLOGY?

( LAUGHTER )

>> WE MISSED THE NORTH DAKOTA SENATE RACE.

>> Jon: YES, YOU DID!

( LAUGHTER ) YOU SAID THAT REPUBLICAN RICK BURT WOULD WIN.

HE LOST.

>> HE LOST.

>> Jon: YOU BETTER GET OUT OF THE BBUDDY.

LAST NIGHT, HERE IS HONESTLY HOW I FELT-- I DIDN'T KNOW OBAMA WOULD WIN, ROMNEY WOULD WIN, THE

COUNTRY WOULD SURVIVE EITHER.

WHAT I WAS REALLY CONCERNED ABOUT LAST NIGHT WAS THAT IF YOUR PREDICTION MODEL HAD BEEN

WRONG, THAT IT WOULD HAVE BEEN A DEFEAT FOR ARITHMETIC ( LAUGHTER ) AND THAT THEY WOULD HAVE SEIZED

UPON THAT TO, LIKE, I THINK THEN GRAVITY WOULD BE UP FOR GRABS.

>> SURE.

>> Jon: IS THAT HOW YOU VIEWED IT, TO SOME EXTENT, DISPASSIONATELY FOR MATH?

>> IT WOULD HAVE BEEN BAD, I THINK, BECAUSE FOR SOME REASON, 538 THAT CAME INVESTED WITH THIS

SYMBOLIC POWER AND SYMBOLIC POWER ISN'T PARTICULARLY RATIONAL, BUT IT BECAME A SYMBOL

FOR PEOPLE WHO WHO WERE BELIEVING, LET'S LOOK AT THE POLLS AND DO IMPEERICAL RESEARCH.

>> Jon: YOU WERE THE CHICK-FILL-A--

>> WHEN I WENT TO THE DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION IN CHARLOTTE.

THERE WAS A CHICK-FILL-A --

>> Stephen: IT'S SO GOOD.

>> IT'S PRETTY GOOD.

I THINK YOU CAN SAMPLE IN THE OTHER SIDE OF STUFF, RIGHT, AND TRY AND COME AWAY MORE INFORMED

FROM IT.

BUT WHAT WAS SURPRISING TO ME IS THAT BEFORE THE ELECTION YOU HAD PEOPLE WHO WERE NOT JUST

PREDICTING ROMNEY WILL EKE IT OUT IN OHIO.

IT'S REPUBLICAN LEANING, ET CETERA.

THEY WERE SAYING WE'D HAVE A ROMNEY LANDSLIDE IN THE SWINGS STATES.

AND TO COME TO THAT CONCLUSION MEANS I THINK YOU'RE A LITTLE BIT OUT OF TOUCH WITH REALITY.

AND YOU BETTER BE RIGHT.

WE GET A TEST.

WE GET A TEST AND IT'S THE GOOD THING ABOUT MAKING A PREDICTION OR FORECAST YOU'RE CALLED ON

YOUR-- CAN I SAY ( BLEEP ) ON TV?

>> Jon: NOT ON THIS SHOW YOU CAN'T.

ON THIS PROGRAM I BELIEVE YOU CAN ONLY SAY ( BLEEP ).

( LAUGHTER ).

I BELIEVE.

IF I'M CORRECT.

BUT THAT IS-- WHAT SO STRUCK ME IS I AM NOT PARTICULARLY VERSED IN STATISTICS, BUT AS I READ

YOUR BLOG, IT WAS BEING USED AS A TOTEM FOR THE LEFT BECAUSE IT WAS SO POSITIVE FOR OBAMA BUT

THE UNDERPINNINGS OF IT WERE THESE POLLS STATISTICALLY WOULD NOT ALL HAVE THE SAME MARGIN OF

ERROR IN THE SAME DISTRIBUTION.

>> RIGHT.

>> Jon: IF IT WERE NOT STATISTICALLY PROVABLE IT WAS MOVING IN THAT PROTECTION.

>> YEAH, UNLESS THERE WERE SOME BIAS IN THE POLLS.

IF ANYTHING THE POLLS WERE A LITTLE LOW ON SOME STATES FOR OBAMA.

AND THAT SOME OF THE THEM UNDERESTIMATED THE NUMBER OF MINORITIES THAT MIGHT TURN OUT,

FOR EXAMPLE, AS WELL.

BUT THE POLLS ARE A PRETTY GOOD TRACK RECORD.

LIKE IN NORTH DAKOTA, THEY'RE NOT PERFECT, NECESSARILY.

BUT THAT'S --

>> Stephen: I DON'T KNOW HOW YOU GO OUTSIDE AFTER THAT NORTH DAKOTA THING.

( LAUGHTER ).

DO YOU THINK-- LET ME ASK YOU THIS ABOUT THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE.

IS THERE ANY WAY TO DETERMINE HOW ELECTIONS WOULD BE CHANGED BY A SWITCH FROM THE ELECTORAL

COLLEGE TO THE POPULAR VOTE?

I KNOW STRATEGICALLY THINGS WOULD CHANGE A LITTLE BIT, BUT DO YOU THINK OUTCOMES WOULD BE

DEMONSTRABLY DIFFERENT?

>> I THINK A LITTLE BIT, MAYBE.

IRONICALLY IT ALMOST PLAYS TO DEMOCRATS' BENEFIT WHERE YOU BUILD A CONSTITUENT AND COBBLE

TOGETHER THE 51% MAJORITY INSTEAD OF HAVING ONE BIG GROUP WHERE YOU HAVE A LOT OF DEPTH.

ROMNEY WILL WIN SOUTH DAKOTA AND TENNESSEE AND ALABAMA AND STATE LIKE THAT, BY 20 OR 25 POINTS.

WHEREAS THERE ARE ALL THESE STATES WHERE DEMOCRATS WON BY ONE OR TWO OR THREE OR FOUR OUR

FIVE POINTS AND IT LOOKS LIKE THEY MAY HAVE A BIT OF AN ADVANTAGE RIGHT NOW.

IF I WERE A G.O.P. STRATEGIST, I WOULD BE TERRIFIED BY FLORIDA, EVEN THOUGH IT'S NOT OFFICIALLY

CALLED YET.

THE FACT THAT THE NONCUBAN-HISPANIC POPULATION IS GROWING SO MUCH THERE AND VOTES

DEMOCRATIC LIKE OTHER STATES.

THAT WOULD HORRIFY ME THAT FLORIDA MIGHT BE A TRUE PURPLE STATE GOING FORWARD.

>> Jon: WHAT I HAVE SEEN FROM THAT SIDE IS A JUSTIFICATION THAT THIS WAS

NOTHING OF THEIR OWN DOING.

THIS WAS A MORAL FAILING OF THEIR OPPONENTS, THAT THERE ARE NOW MORE PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY

WHO ARE MORALLY WEAK AND LAZY, AND THAT'S WHY THEY LOST, HAVING NOTHING TO DO WITH THEM.

YOU LAUGH, BUT I'M TELL YOU, ALL DAY LONG ON B.M.M., IT IS A CONSTANT REFRAIN OF, "WELL, NOW

WE'VE LEARNED.

MOST OF THIS COUNTRY DOESN'T WANT TO WORK FOR ANYTHING."

>> IT'S NOTHAT COMPLICATED.

THEY DID WIN 48% THE VOTE.

AND MAY BE YOU MODERATE A LITTLE BIT ON IMMIGRATION AND GAY MARRIAGE AND THE FISCAL

CONSERVATIVE STUFF WILL ALWAYS SELL TO A CERTAIN ODD YINS.

IT'S HARD FOR DEMOCRATS TO WIN THREE TERMS IN A ROW.

THEY SHOULD BE ABLE TO GET THEIR ACT TOGETHER.

WE'LL SEE.

FOUR YEARS IS A LONG TIME.

WE'VE HAD, OBVIOUSLY, SHIFTS BACK AND FORTH, IN THE PRIOR FOUR YEARS.

I DO THINK IF YOU-- LOOK AT HOW JEB BUSH --

>> Stephen: ARE YOU SO REASONABLE.

DON'T YOU WANT TO STAND UP AND GO, "I AM NATE SILVER!

BOW DOWN TO ME!

" ( CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ) "I AM NATE SILVER!

LORD AND GOD OF THE ALLEGORRISM!" ( CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ) I WANT YOU TO COME BACK IN SIX

MONTHS AND LET'S JUST TALK BASEBALL.

>> ABSOLUTELY.

>> Jon: THAT WOULD BE AWESOME.

>> THANK YOU, JON.

>> Jon: NATE SILVER.

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