Nate Silver now killing stylish reporting, bad polls

Dave Winer | The Guardian | The New York Times

We all know Nate Silver killed punditry last week. What else has he bumped off lately?

Negative advertising, Dave Winer writes. Also voter suppression, and the idea one can get elected without building a "private Facebook" like Obama's data operation:

You could argue that Obama's network is even more valuable than Zuck's. Maybe this is his Presidential library, or his version of the Carter Center or the Clinton Global Initiative. Only this time you might call it ObamaBook. The ultimate political machine.

"Stylish reporting," Peter Preston writes.

Forget human beings with notepads. You can still be relevant as a writer if you take the polling data and chomp it around, adding slants from across the spectrum. But reporting, gently reflecting on what's going on? Forget it.

• Look out, pollsters with bad track records! Google Consumer Surveys was more accurate than Gallup, Nate Silver writes. In fact, online polls outperformed most automated telephone surveys.

Looking more broadly across the 90 polling firms that conducted at least one likely-voter poll in the final three weeks of the campaign, polling firms that conducted their polls wholly or partially online outperformed others on average. Among the nine in that category, the average error in calling the election result was 2.1 percentage points. That compares with a 3.5-point error for polling firms that used live telephone interviewers and 5.0 points for “robopolls,” which conducted their surveys by automated script.

Something Nate Silver can't bump off: Internet memes about Nate Silver. "Drunk Nate Silver," meet "Seductive Nate Silver." And both of you, please meet the Nate Silver song "Nate the Great," which appeared Nov. 8.

I asked composer and singer Lauren Mayer how she cranked this song out so quickly. "I have been writing custom material for corporate events, topical comedy songs, private parties, etc., for almost 30 years so I am used to writing fast," she told me in an email. Hear that? Nate Silver is now killing slow composers of music.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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