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A new paragraph
Nate Silver’s whole project of taking a purely numbers-based approach to political punditry has always been an implicit criticism of most mainstream forecasters, but in recent days he’s gotten much more aggressive about what he sees as the flaws and errors of most professionals.
His latest election forecast looks at the fact that of the 22 Swing State polls that were released yesterday, Barack Obama led in 19, and that Mitt Romney lead in just 1 (2 were ties).
He then delves into the various reasons this might not mean Obama will win, most notably the possibility that swing state polls are systemically biased against Romney for whatever reason. He considers that a possible coherent, logical argument, but it’s one that very few of the folks calling the race a “toss up” are citing.
My argument, rather, is this: we’ve about reached the point where if Mr. Romney wins, it can only be because the polls have been biased against him. Almost all of the chance that Mr. Romney has in the FiveThirtyEight forecast, about 16 per cent to win the Electoral College, reflects this possibility.
Nevertheless, these arguments are potentially more intellectually coherent than the ones that propose that the race is “too close to call.” It isn’t. If the state polls are right, then Mr. Obama will win the Electoral College. If you can’t acknowledge that after a day when Mr. Obama leads 19 out of 20 swing-state polls, then you should abandon the pretense that your goal is to inform rather than entertain the public.
As they say on Twitter: #shotsfired.
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