Montana Politics

Forecasting Elections like Poker

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Nate Silver baffles me with his brilliance.  In 2003, he came up with a new statistical measure for baseball that was bought out by Baseball Prospectus because it was so good.  With his new free time, he turned his mind toward poker, where he figured out a method, much like the World Series of Poker gives percentages to each players hand, that made him $400,000 richer, where then, he put his money on forecasting politics.  His method is complex, but he weighs all the major polls, gives them a value based upon their historical correctness, adds in the population voting history, and a few other factors to give him his formula for political forecasting.  To give you an idea of how right on this guy is, in the 2008 presidential election, he correctly predicted every state but one.  For the 2008 senate races, he predicted all of them.

On his current blog, fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com , he has a mine of data with very pretty charts for both the presidency and the senate races by state.  For our Montana race, Tester better kick it up a notch and his supporters need to speak with everyone they know, because the race is tight, and according to Silver, “leaning Republican”.  Use this as motivation, because I hope Montana can prove him wrong.

About the author

jessefranzen

I love Montana.

18 Comments

  • I’m reading Silver’s book,”The Signal and the Noise,” which was released in late September. I recommend it without reservation. I also recommend buying the hard copy as the graphics will be hard to read on a Kindle.

    I’m also reading Sasha Issenberg’s “The Victory Lab,” and also recommend it without reservation. There are no drawbacks to reading this book on a Kindle.

    • Came upon this little tidbit.

      Quote: “Nate Silver gave Republicans only a 30% chance of gaining over 60 seats in the house in 2010. They got 64.”

      • Gack, do I always have to fact check you? Give me your address, and I’ll send you a bill.

        Nate Silver, Nov. 1, 2010, the day before the election:

        “Republicans… have better than a one-in-three chance of winning at least 60 seats, a one-in-six chance of winning at least 70 seats, and have some realistic chance of a gain exceeding 80 seats”

        Then again, I don’t expect the FoxNews/Breitbart/Drudge crowd to do much more than cut and paste 90% of the time. Facts? We gots our own.

        Probabilities, shmobabilities. Who needs math…?

  • Linking elections to poker or gambling has a history: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/10/09/romney-will-win-in-landslide-las-vegas-oddsmaker-doubles-down-on-prediction/

    Romney wins in a landslide — Las Vegas oddsmaker doubles down on prediction

    By Wayne Allyn Root
    Published October 09, 2012

    Yes, you read that headline correctly. I am a Las Vegas oddsmaker (and former Libertarian vice presidential candidate) and here’s why I am so boldly predicting a Romney landslide.

    In November of 2004, only days before the presidential election, I went on CNBC and predicted a Bush victory by 3 points and 30 electoral votes. Every poll at the time showed Kerry in the lead. Bush won by 3 and 35. Newsmax magazine called it the most accurate prediction of 2004.

    In October of 2006, I went on Fox News to predict the GOP would get slaughtered in the midterm election and lose Congress. They did.

    In December 2011, before the GOP primary, I predicted Mitt Romney would win the GOP presidential nomination and go on to win the presidency. For the next few months, Romney trailed by a wide margin to a range of contenders — Donald Trump, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum. It seemed no one wanted Mitt for president. It seemed no one believed in Mitt. No one, that is, except this Las Vegas oddsmaker and capitalist evangelist.

    Fast forward to Spring 2012 after Romney clinched the GOP nomination, but trailed in every poll to President Obama. I boldly predicted a Mitt Romney landslide on Election Day, November 6.

    Fast forward to June 2012, when experts predicted a defeat for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in his recall election. Unions were pouring unheard of sums into the race in a longtime Democratic state that welcomes union rights. I boldly predicted a Walker landslide victory of 7 to 10 points. He won by exactly 7 (despite reported Democratic voter irregularities).

    For the past month, as Mitt Romney trailed badly in almost every poll, especially in the all-important battleground states, I continued to predict a big Romney victory. Today I’m making it official:

    I’m doubling down. Mitt Romney will win the presidency, and it won’t be close.

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