Impressed that @jonkarl had the courage, foresight and determination to fly to Iowa this week to ask Ted Cruz if he's in Iowa to run in 2016
— Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu) July 21, 2013
When Nate Silver starts appearing on ABC as a political analyst, I’ll bet he gets the same reception from the Jonathan Karl types there as he did from those types at the Times (as reported by the Times Public Editor, Margaret Sullivan):
A number of traditional and well-respected Times journalists disliked his work. The first time I wrote about him I suggested that print readers should have the same access to his writing that online readers were getting. I was surprised to quickly hear by e-mail from three high-profile Times political journalists, criticizing him and his work. They were also tough on me for seeming to endorse what he wrote, since I was suggesting that it get more visibility.
It’s pretty obvious that the Times journalists who wrote to Sullivan will consider it a victory that they drove Silver off, and that they will fight like hell to make sure that another analyst that uses a poll-averaging model to talk about politics isn’t hired at the Times. It will be very damn interesting to see if Jill Abramson considers Silver a one-of-a-kind and gives up on poll averaging analysis, or if she hires someone else to run a 538-like column. I hope its the latter, because what Silver does isn’t some kind of magical gay wizardry that mere mortals can’t replicate.
You can’t expect the NYT to have two liberals who use numbers on its staff. One Krugman is enough indecorousness for the delicate bipartisan sensibilities of a newspaper in decline.
IMO, ABC is easily the 1 of the 3 traditional broadcasters with a news division most likely to lapse into BS that Silver will be tempted to call out. For that reason alone the move is inexplicable to me (I guess other then no one else has anything like ESPN).
How many “high-profile” political journalists does the Times have?
They’ll probably hire the unskewed polls guy.
They’re “high-profile” in their own minds. It’s disgusting that they have brave people like C. J. Chivers on the same staff with that pack of lily-livered jerks.
Sibling Nonspecific Firearm of Random Adjective Followed by a Noun That Describes a Mental State (fka AWS)
I have to give kudos to Sullivan for even writing that column. It shows a lot more “behind the curtain” than I’m sure a lot of those twats on staff would like.
pundtwits ≠ journos.
This. I’ve been calling that move for days.
Both sides, FTW.
My God, “high profile journalists” (not only at NYT) are petty, childish, jealous swell-headed creatures.
That was my thought also. I bet the high-profile journalists were David Brooks, Ross Douthat, and Peggy Noonan.
Not only could anybody do what Silver does, with a little bit of work, I think the whole process gets dragged out considerably longer than it has to, considering his projections tend to track run-of-the-mill poll averages pretty closely in the early going. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate what he does, but a prediction of the presidential race from June 2012 doesn’t really bear much resemblance to anything concerning the state of the race in early November.
What will happen to Sullivan for airing the dirty linen? Can’t wait for Sunday bobblehead shows to see who questions NYT journals about their reactions to Silver. Oh, wait… yeah…
Sullivan was the editor of the Buffalo News. I’m sure the general attitude at the NYT is that they wouldn’t wipe their asses with her old paper. So she’s probably way past give-a-shit about what those NYT staffers think of her column.
@p.a.: Indeed. Oh, wait … yeah …
@Baud: See, I thought Maureen Dowd rather than Noonan. I’m not disagreeing with you, but she’s totally a “brown suits brought Al Gore down” kind of political “analyst.”
So many to choose from.
Except, you know, none of them are journalist and Sullivan would never refer to them as such. The NY Times easily has 3 political journalist that you could consider high profile.
Sullivan isn’t naming names, and it would be irresponsible not to speculate.
To me, the key thing about Sullivan’s column on this was that ‘truth’ or ‘reality’ or ‘accuracy’ were not words found in it.
She presented it at a cultural clash, with cultural fit as the *only* measure of performance.
To me this was a confession: ‘Silver was right, the rest were wrong, so Silver was asked to leave.’.
@Napoleon: “The NY Times easily has 3 political journalist that you could consider high profile. ”
Who are they? I’m not counting columnists, but actual reporters.
Nate Cohn at TNR isn’t awful. He’s not Nate Silver, but he is a Nate. And that counts for something.
Silver exploited a niche in politics in which there was a TON of data. And the mainstream media was basically ignoring that data and staking its predictions on Noonan-style tea-leaf reading.
No, they’re people you’ve never heard of (like Jeff Zeleny) plus Mark Leibovich. That’s my guess. It’s the “hard-hitting reporters” who just repeat gossip and bash Obama, not the opinion columnists.
Nate got tired of lying for the NYTimes
@gogol’s wife: Is Ad Nags still at the NYT? If he is, I bet he was one of the whiners.
A partial list off the top of my head on people if I am in her shoes writing that column:
Adam Nagourney (before he was moved to LA), Carl Hulse, Elisabeth Bumiller, Jeff Zeleny, Matt Bai, Charlie Savage, Michael Shear, Mark Leibovich, Nicholas Confessore and Dan Sanger.
@Penus: “Silver exploited a niche in politics in which there was a TON of data. And the mainstream media was basically ignoring that data and staking its predictions on Noonan-style tea-leaf reading. ”
What’s really bad is that they were not ignoring that data in the sense of not having super-sophisticated statistical analysis, but in the sens of not even looking at the f-ing polls.
What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us?
Well that Princeton Election Consortium guy has a Silver-esque track record. He’s right there in Jersey, at least I assume so, and could step right into the role. Maybe those political journalists will have less of a hissy fit if the guy showing them up has Ivy League pedigree.
Maybe replace Noonan with Thomas Friedman.
Silver’s ‘problem’ was that the whole 2012 election was very predictable. The 2008 election had at least a little bit of suspense and for about two weeks the McCain/Palin ticket ran even with Obama/Biden (until Lehman Brothers collapsed and the Katie Couric interview aired in pieces). A couple of months ago, the Obama campaign released their internal polls and there was pretty much no fluctuation at all, except for the week before and after the first debate. So on the one hand, this very boring election didn’t really need a number cruncher to decipher the polls, but on the other hand, the media was extremely desperate to show that there really was a race going on. So basically, Nate’s only role this time was to point fingers at the pundits.
This is true. It’s pretty easy to see what was happening given the data. I just think sometimes that there are a lot of bells and whistles put around that data that makes it look like magic is happening when, in reality, the predictions jump around with the polls quite a bit in the early going. That may just be because it’s not really possible to predict very early on who’s actually going to win the race, because the poll data responds so heavily to events in general, and they’re unpredictable.
I just meant that I don’t think there’s a reliable model to predict in June who’s going to win in November, at least not all the time. Like you said, and like Penus said, Silver’s success was mostly because his competition was a bunch of self-satisfied innumerates.
So the big question is who are the three idiots that e-mailed Sullivan.
I don’t really care where Nate Silver works so long as I get to hear what he sees. I don’t really care what most the Times big name journalists think as most of them are self centered twits. But my ‘Entertainment Tonight’ inner child want to know which 3 self centered idiots Sullivan refers to.
Fox is launching an all sports channel any day now. I read somewhere this might have something to do with Olberman coming back to ESPN, and Silver too.
I can’t wait when Silver gets hired by Fox.
Also, it seems to me the Powers That Be could undermine analysis like Silver’s by flooding the polling market with bad data. It was already happening in 2012, but what if Big Daddy Wingnut buys all the major polling groups, and then “unskews” them. Without underlying polls, Silver and Wang have no analysis.
As many are saying, what Nate did in 2012 wasn’t particularly extraordinary. I was more impressed in 2008, when he predicted Dem primary outcomes based on demographics, not polls. Anyone could have averaged the polls (though Nate did it with more accuracy, being scrupulous and noting the in-house bias of certain outlets). The limitations of Nate’s system were surely seen in the GOP primaries last time, when he’d swing from 75% likely-Santorum to 80% likely-Romney in a matter of days/weeks, based on polling shifts. He usually ended up telling us things we already knew.
But even this minor reliance on published polls for the general election was threatening to the election-entertainment complex, for whom every day of every election season has to be a jump ball. These are people who pretended Mondale had a shot against Reagan (especially when, after Reagan’s disastrous first debate, his lead “dwindled” to mere double-digits); who think the ’92 election turned on the last-minute indictment of Caspar Weinberger, and that Bush would have won by 10 points in 2000 minus the DUI; who persist in reporting post-convention polls as serious game-changers, even though half a century’s experience shows they’re souffles that revert to normal in short order.
Anything-can-still-happen is the narrative of EVERY election year for the DC press, and Nate’s methodology must be cast out for daring to suggest that’s not the case.
David in NY
@Baud: Peggy Noonan at the Times??? Not in mine. Getchyer facts right.
That’s not actually true. NYT management by all accounts tried hard to keep him. But it’s clear that a lot of their “journalists” are happy they failed. If I were part of management, I’d be thinking hard about that during future hiring and retention decisions.
@Baud: The Tom Friedman suggestion of @Alex S.: is a good one.
I had forgotten that Noonan wasn’t at the NYT, but I gave up on the MSM other than reading to it when others point it out to me on Twitter or Balloon Juice or whatever. The NYT just annoys me too g*ddamn much for me to want to put myself through it. Even the way they choose which stories to put where drives me crazy.
Villago Delenda Est
These pricks need to be kicked to the curb…and left there to exsanguinate.
And let’s be honest here…there was another reason most of the media ignored Silver’s data. It’s the same reason the WWF waited until the end of a 3-hour pay-per-view to put on a championship match that everyone knew the Rock was going to win. If you make the results clear too early, viewers change the channel.
Also…let’s look at the big picture. The Mouse is going to give Silver an incredible platform akin to the one they gave Bill Simmons for Grantland. He won’t just be doing sports. He’ll do a lot of sports, because he likes it. But he’ll be given a blank canvas, free reign and a huge pile of money. That’s tough to turn down.
Does anyone know how much traffic Silver drove to the NYTimes website? I would think during election season probably about 95% of visitors went there for 538. This is going to hurt the Times.
@Redshirt: I don’t think this would work long term. The polling firms depend on accuracy to keep clients. Otherwise, why would anyone pay them for their work? If they consistently design sucky polls and/or are consistently wrong (like on purpose), it undermines their credibility. They poll other things than politics and they also work a lot of smaller races. If they prove consistently they aren’t to be trusted, they’ll lose clients.
This already happened to a certain extent after 2012. I forget which polling firm it was–Gallup, maybe?–who was consistently unreliable and after the election said they’d be looking at their polling methodology. If the poll design sucks, Nate Silver and Sam Wang, et al will say so. They have already. They tend to leave out polls that are so poorly designed as to be meaningless. There’s not a lot of upside for polling firms in designing terrible polls.
What the NYT does is not news, it’s entertainment. It’s fiction, it’s narrative.
Sorry, it is. And Nate Silver was dealing with facts, not narrative.
Enhanced Voting Techniques
@Barry: To me this was a confession: ‘Silver was right, the rest were wrong, so Silver was asked to leave.
and welcome to America of the 21st century lol