Monday, November 1, 2010

Nate Silver, Chuck Todd And Senate Expectations

Seems to me that the consensus among those election analysts who pride themselves on their objectivity is that the GOP stands to gain eight Senate seats, or at least 6-8.

Why are they so confident Toomey will win in PA when the cw for several cycles has been that the Dems always finish strong there?

   Why are they giving Angle the edge?  After all, she's a race-baiting, anti-immigration candidate "way outside the mainstream" running against the Senate majority leader in a state with strong unions and tons of Hispanic voters.  Right?  The polls there are still damn close.

How about Washington?  Isn't that a lock for Murray?  Rossi hasn't led in a non-partisan poll not conducted by Rasmussen all year long.   Obama got 57% there just two years ago.  Why are the deep thinkers so unwilling to say Murray has the structural edge? 

Colorado is very close, and Buck seems like the kind of foot-in-mouth social conservative candidate that Colorado's libertarian-minded independents would be embarrassed to back.  Bennet is clean and wonky.

I say Nate Silver's calculations are to blame for this over-estimation of GOP strength.  fivethirtyeight has Toomey at a 92% chance of winning; Angle at 82 and Buck at 62.  Rossi has dropped to 15, but in mid-September  he was the favorite according to Silver's model.

Analysts who get the call to appear on some cable show or another but lack strong feelings about potential outcomes, or confidence in their own hunches, fall back on the nerd who did so well in 2008.   I contend that without Nate Silver and the fivethirtyeight phenomenon, Chuck Todd would be telling us that we need to watch Wisconsin to see if the GOP's flawed tea party challengers have any chance against well respected incumbents like Feingold (or Bennet or Murray or the non-incumbent "Admiral Sestak," a nearly perfect Democratic candidate on paper.)

Silver, a self-identified liberal, abetted by media analysts anxious not to be seen as having missed an historic electoral wave, has shifted the expectations game dramatically in the GOP's favor.

What say you Mickey?  Would we be anticipating an Angle victory if Silver had stuck with baseball?  I say the answer is a clear "no."

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