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Nate Silver
  • From the Pork Barrel: The Littlest Pundits

    * I can't say for certain, but I think this video is from the unaired Fox pilot for Hannity and Colmes: The Early Years.

    * Nate Silver boils all the important poll numbers down to for words: "Obama’s ahead in Ohio." Still, I think that might be a tad confusing for many pundits.

    * Though, please keep in mind that Nate Silver in not privy to Karl Rove's magic secret math.

    * And, more disturbingly for Democrats, Dick Morris is coming dangerously close to predicting an Obama win. That's the best argument I've seen yet for a Romney landslide.

    * Download our free iPhone and iPad app Indecision Election Companion and jump up into the the Peanut Gallery — our liveblog/instant reaction arena — to watch and respond as David Plouffe and Eric Cantor try to get in last words on NBC's Meet the Press this Sunday at 10:30 am ET.

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    Tags: Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Nate Silver, Ohio, Polls, Pork Barrel
  • Is Barack Obama's Firewall Safe?

    If you're not familiar with the term "firewall," you may be tempted to believe that it is a wall that is made out of fire that politicians like Barack Obama erect to keep inter-dimensional beasts from entering our peaceful realm and enslaving all of us.* Unfortunately, it is not. (So, we continue to remain in constant danger of netherworldy attack.)

    What it is in the case of Obama is a couple of states — namely Ohio, Wisconsin and Iowa — which the President is expecting to hold, therefore keeping his re-election chances high. The question is: Will the firewall hold?

    According to Mitt Romney's advisers — who, when you think of it, have nothing to gain by lying — the answer is a resounding no

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    Tags: Barack Obama, Electoral College, Iowa, Mitt Romney, Nate Silver, Ohio, Polls, Wisconsin
  • 0.6% Chance U.S. Will Tear Itself to Bloody Shreds on Nov. 7

    Super-statistician Nate Silver once again does the math and concludes, once again, that there is a non-zero percent chance for a doomsday scenario — a.k.a. Electoral College tie — between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney

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    Tags: Civil War, Nate Silver, Polls
  • Paul Ryan, Most Severely Conservative V.P. Nominee in History?

    Mitt Romney once described himself as a "severely conservative governor," marking the first time that adverb had been used to describe something other than an illness. Whether or not that's true, according to Nate Silver's analysis of House vote data, Ryan is the most severely conservative vice presidential nominee in at least 100 years

    Various statistical measures of Mr. Ryan peg him as being quite conservative. Based on his Congressional voting record, for instance, the statistical system DW-Nominate evaluates him as being roughly as conservative as Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota.

    By this measure, in fact, which rates members of the House and Senate throughout different time periods on a common ideology scale, Mr. Ryan is the most conservative Republican member of Congress to be picked for the vice-presidential slot since at least 1900. He is also more conservative than any Democratic nominee was liberal, meaning that he is the furthest from the center. (The statistic does not provide scores for governors and other vice-presidential nominees who never served in Congress.)

    Unfortunately, that's not how science — even political science — works. In essence, a NOMINATE score measures how frequently a member of Congress agrees with other members of his or her party, but the policies that constitute the party line change over the years.

    For example, a loyal Republican in the 1930s may be a staunch isolationist, while a Republican with a similar score in the 2000s will only favor withdrawal from Iraq if the troops are sent next door to Iran. Likewise, congressmen from the 1920s couldn't vote to cut Social Security and throw grandma off the fiscal cliff because Social Security didn't exist.

    So it's not possible to evaluate whether Ryan is more conservative than Charles W. Fairbanks, though it's perfectly plausible to use NOMINATE to determine that Ryan stands somewhere to the right of Dick Cheney. A dangerous place politically and also physically, as it may get you shot in the face.

    Chart by Nate Silver/NY Times

    Tags: Conservatives, Dick Cheney, Nate Silver, New York Times, Paul Ryan
  • Jon Huntsman to Finish Seventh, Could Be Tonight's Big Winner

    It's looking like Jon Huntsman is going to be finishing seventh tonight, which is not surprising, since I think the only time he spent in Iowa this season was during a two-hour layover on his way to some place that was not Iowa.

    However — if Nate Silver's somewhat prescient speculation from earlier today has anything to say about it — with tonight's ménage à trois between Romney, Santorum and Paul, it may very well be Huntsman who ends up with the happy ending

    Mr. Huntsman might be hoping for a highly ambiguous finish, especially an effective three-way… would leave no candidate with demonstrable momentum. That would free up news bandwidth for him in New Hampshire, where his polling is stronger but where he will have to compete with several other candidates for attention.

    The less news coming out of Iowa, the more time the news media will have to speculate about whether it is finally Mr. Huntsman’s turn to surge.

    Conversely, the loss of Bachmann and Perry could losen up some Evangelical votes and send Santorum to the top of the pack.

    Hahahaha. Just kidding. Yeah, but anyway, I wonder if this Huntsman thing could actually happen.

    Photo by Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call Group/Getty Images

    Tags: Iowa, Iowa Caucus, Jon Huntsman, Nate Silver, New Hampshire