After weeks of bearing the brunt of anti-poll, anti-math attacks from people on the right, Nate Silver and his FiveThirtyEight election model can finally send the world a big fat "I Told Ya So." Not that he's going to, of course. Outside of a timely plug for his new book, Silver was mostly gracious in victory, despite correctly predicting the outcome in all 50 states. (Assuming Florida remains in Obama's hands when they're done counting.)
So even though he earned the right to tell his all of his critics exactly what they can do with their unskewed polls, Silver is mostly letting his numbers—and his fans—do the talking for him. Why shouldn't he? Jonah Goldberg of National Review may think that math can't tell us everything about the world, but when this op-ed shows up in newspapers this morning defending "lovers of reason" against the cult of numbers, Silver's argument pretty much speaks for itself.
Meanwhile, the jokes, the congratulations, and the recriminations have been flying all night and morning.
Next time conservatives should engage in poll denialism earlier. That will fix the GOP.— Michael B Dougherty (@michaelbd) November 7, 2012
If last night was "Moneyball 2" then @fivethirtyeight(Nate Silver) won the World Series. His prediction model -- truly impressive.— James Andrew Miller (@ESPNBook) November 7, 2012
"You know who won the election tonight? Nate Silver."- @maddow— Ari Melber (@AriMelber) November 7, 2012
NBC is now projecting @fivethirtyeight as the President of the United States.— Christopher Hayes (@chrislhayes) November 7, 2012
this is how Nate Silver's projection have worked out so far: twitter.com/abstractsunday…— Christoph Niemann (@abstractsunday) November 7, 2012
Even Dylan Byers, whose article for Politico last week sparked much of the FiveThirtyEight backlash, had to admit the obvious:
Nate Silver nailed it.— Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) November 7, 2012
Not a bad night for the math nerds. However, the truth—which Silver would readily admit—is that he didn't really "predict" anything. The math did ... and the math was based on polls, which are also based on math. He pulled them all together and came back with a number, which was very useful (and comforting to Democrats), but not magic. The real shame is that critics couldn't see FiveThirtyEight for what it is and now look foolish for making it personal.
But they may not be as foolish as these people who all made the exact same (fairly obvious) joke about Silver's real victory.
Nate Silver is sooo getting laid tonight— lee prinz (@leeprinz) November 7, 2012