Nate Silver

  • Aired:  10/17/12
  •  | Views: 44,342

Statistician Nate Silver weighs in on the presidential race and discusses the limits of statistical predictability. (5:29)

>> Jon: WELCOME BACK.

MY GUEST TONIGHT IS A

STATISTICIAN AND FOUNDER OF THE

ANY TIMED POLITICAL BLOG

538.COM.

HIS NEW BOOK IS CALLED "THE

SIGNAL AND THE NOISE: WHY SO

MANY PREDICTIONS FAIL BUT SOME

DON'T."

PLEASE WELCOME BACK TO THE

PROGRAM NATE SILVER.

[APPLAUSE]

THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE.

>> THANK YOU.

>> Jon: ABSOLUTELY FASCINATING

BOOK.

I VERY MUCH ENJOYED THE PARTS OF

IT THAT I WAS ABLE TO

UNDERSTAND.

WHICH IS VERY MINUTE.

BUT OBVIOUSLY MORE IMPORTANTLY,

RIGHT NOW...

>> RIGHT.

>> Jon: WHO IS STATISTICALLY

WINNING THE RACE FOR PRESIDENT

BETWEEN BARACK OBAMA AND MITT

ROMNEY?

>> SO WE HAVE OBAMA AS A MODEST

FAVORITE RIGHT NOW BASED ON

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN THE

ELECTORAL COLLEGE.

WE'RE STILL IN STATES LIKE OHIO,

IOWA, WISCONSIN THAT WOULD GIVE

OBAMA 207 ELECTORAL VOTES.

HE SEEMS TO BE JUST A FINEY BIT

AHEAD.

>> Jon: AND HOW ABOUT NOW?

[LAUGHTER]

>> WE JUST GOT 20 NEW POLLS IN.

THAT MAY HAVE CHANGED.

I'VE MISSED MY ABILITY TO UPDATE

THE SITE BECAUSE I'M ON THE SHOW

WITH YOU.

>> Jon: IS THAT TRUE?

WOULD YOU LIKE TO UPDATE IT

HERE?

>> NEW YORK I'D RATHER BE ON THE

SHOW FRANKLY.

PEOPLE CAN WAIT.

>> Jon: PEOPLE CAN WAIT.

>> PEOPLE ARE TOO HYPER ABOUT

THE POLLS ANYWAY.

>> Jon: THAT'S AN INTERESTING

POINT.

IT'S BECAUSE THIS REAL-TIME

OBSESSION IN THE WAY... IT

STRIKES ME AS WHEN THEY STARTED

TO PUT THE NEWS TICKER UP AND

THE STOP FIGURES.

>> RIGHT.

>>

>> Jon: SUDDENLY, BECAUSE THEY

EXISTED IN REAL TIME, THE

URGENCY OF THE CHANGING OF IT

WAS AMPLIFIED.

>> I THINK PART OF THE WHOLE DOT

COM BOOM BECAUSE WHEN YOU

STARTED TO SEE CNBC PLAYING

INSTEAD OF BASEBALL GAMES IN

BARS.

THERE'S SO MUCH INFORMATION

BOMBARDING ME, HOW CAN I GO

WRONG.

IT'S LIKE, EVEN THOUGH WE HAVE

MORE INFORMATION, AND WE DON'T

KNOW HOW THE USE IT WELL, IT CAN

GET US INTO MORE TROUBLE.

>> Jon: I THOUGHT THAT WAS

FASCINATING THAT WHEN YOU TALK

ABOUT PUNDITS, FOR INSTANCE.

YOU SAY THAT THE PUNDITS AND

THEIR PREDICTIONS ARE NO BETTER

THAN A COIN TOSS.

>> YEAH.

IF YOU LOOK LONG-TERM HOW DO

PEOPLE IN THE McLAUGHLIN GROUP

DO, THEY GET HALF THEIR

PREDICTIONS RIGHT AND HALF WRONG

BECAUSE THEY'RE BASICALLY

ENTERTAINERS.

RIGHT, PEOPLE CRITICIZE THIS

SHOW MAYBE AND SAY, IT'S

ENTERTAINMENT MASQUERADING AS

NEWS, BUT A LOT OF NEWS IS

ENTERTAINMENT MASQUERADING AS

NEWS.

>> Jon: I THINK THAT'S

ABSOLUTELY CORRECT.

[CHEERING AND APPLAUSE]

DO YOU FORESEE A COIN GETTING

ITS OWN SHOW?

>> A COIN TOSS?

>> Jon: THE COIN TOSS SHOW.

JUST FLIP IT UP...

>> MAYBE INSTEAD OF A RECOUNT.

THAT'S HOW THEY DO IT IN THE

NFL, JUST HAVE A COIN FLIP.

IT'S WITHIN ONE-TENTH OF 1%,

JUST FLIP A COIN.

>> Jon: ISN'T THERE A POINT

WITH OUR ELECTIONS THAT WE ARE

BEYOND THE ABILITY TO KNOW OF IT

STATISTICALLY, THAT WE ARE

BEYOND THE STATISTICAL

PREDICTABILITY.

>> SURE, IF YOU LOOK AT THE

MINNESOTA RECOUNT, FOR EXAMPLE,

IN 2008, WHERE SHOULD WE COULD A

BALLOT CAST FOR LIZARD PEOPLE

AND THE FLORIDA RECOUNT IN 2000,

THAT'S A CASE WHERE THE ELECTION

WAS FOR ALL INTENTS AND PURPOSES

A TIE.

WE COULD HAVE RECOUNTED THOSE

BALLOTS 20 TIMES OVER AND MAYBE

SHOULD HAVE A DO-OVER INSTEAD OF

A RECOUNT.

>> Jon: RIGHT.

AS SOMEBODY WHO IS VERY

KNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT HOW TO

COMPILE THESE TYPES OF FIGURES,

IS THERE SOMEBODY LIKE YOU

WITHIN THESE CAMPAIGNS

>> THIS IS KIND OF THE REVERSE

OF ""MONEYBALL"" IS THE STORY OF

HOW OUTSIDERS CHANGED THE

BASEBALL INDUSTRY, AND IT'S KIND

OF THE REVERSE WHERE THE

CAMPAIGNS KIND OF DO GET IT AND

ESPECIALLY THE OBAMA CAMPAIGN

BUT ALSO LOOK KARL ROVE WHATEVER

YOU THINK OF HIM WAS A VERY

DRIVEN GUY.

JON YAWN WANT KNOW WHAT I THINK

OF HIM?

THERE'S THAT FREE TRADE,

WHATEVER YOU THINK OF HIM, AND

I'M LIKE, LET ME TELL YOU.

>> BUT THE MEDIA IS THE ONE WHO

COVERS THE CAMPAIGNS IN A SILLY

WAY A LOT OF THE TIME WHERE A

LOT OF THE TIME, LOOK, NOTHING

HAPPENS OVER THE COURSE OF A

DAY.

NOW WE'RE IN THE PENNANT RACE,

SO IT MATTERS, BUT THE AVERAGE

DAY IN APRIL, NOTHING OF

IMPORTANCE HAPPENS, SO YOU HAVE

TO HAVE A LEAD STORY.

>> Jon: YOU HAVE TO GENERATE

THAT URGENCY.

>> YOU HAVE TO GENERATE FAKE

NEWS.

>> Jon: WHY DON'T THEY

COVER... WOW.

WHY WAS THAT A BUMPERSTICKER I

SHOULD HAVE ON MY CAR?

WHY DON'T THEY COVER THE FACT,

THOUGH, ARE THEY BEING

DISINGENUOUS NOT COVERING THE

FACT THAT THESE CAMPAIGNS ARE

CONSCIOUSLY PLAYING TO THE

STATISTICS AND THE NUMBERS WHEN

REALLY THEY ARE FOCUSING ON THE

SABERMETRICS OF THIS ELECTION.

>> I THINK THERE'S NOT A LOT OF

COVERAGE OF WHAT GOES ON BEHIND

THE SCENES.

SO WHEN I WENT UP TO NEW

HAMPSHIRE FOR THE PRIMARY, I

WOULD VISIT THE DIFFERENT

CAMPAIGN OFFICES, AND YOU COULD

TELL ON THAT BASIS THAT ROMNEY

WAS GOING TO WIN BECAUSE HIS

OFFICE WAS A LIVE OF ACTIVITY.

YOU HAD HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE

BUZZING AROUND.

YOU GO TO RICK PERRY'S OFFICE

AND THERE'S ONE DUDE THERE.

HELLO, HELLO.

>> Jon: CAN I TELL YOU, MY

GUESS IS THAT DUDE WAS AWESOME.

>> HE WAS HAPPY TO HAVE A

VISITOR.

>> Jon: HE WAS EXCITED.

>> AND NEWT GINGRICH HAD FRANK

LUNTZ WANDERING AROUND HIS

OFFICE AND A BUNCH OF FAT

PEOPLE.

[LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE]

>> Jon: CAN YOU STICK AROUND

FOR A COUPLE MINUTES?

>> YEAH.

>> Jon: "THE SIGNAL AND THE

NOISE," IT'S ON THE BOOKSHELVES

NOW.

BUY IT AND ALSO AT THE SAME TIME

A CALCULATOR.

NATE SILVER.

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