There is a 100-percent chance that after spending years and many blog posts predicting the outcome of the election, Nate Silver did not vote, he admitted during a Q&A on Deadspin. His reasoning: "I don't think that somebody who is observing or predicting behavior should also be participating in the 'experiment,'" he said. Like his approach to analyzing polls, Silver wants to take the fairest, least partisan stance on the election, which to him means abstaining from voting day itself. "I think someone should choose whether he is an activist (someone trying to influence the outcome) or an analyst (someone trying to understand it at arm's-length) and I chose the latter path," he said.
That is unlike many political pundits who blur the line between the two, using their political leanings not only to predict the election, but also to sway it on voting day. We saw how that tactic affected the accuracy of their forecasting. (Hint: "Vibrations" do not a precise—or useful—prediction make, ahem Peggy Noonan.) That we know these people voted for the guy they so wrongly said would win (or the guy they thought would win by more) makes their punditry all the more suspect.
Silver with his data-based journalism isn't the only one to adopt this line of thinking. Many journalists, even the ones who don't use data, choose not to vote because they feel it compromises the dignity of their jobs. Here's Colin Pope from the Austin Business Journal on that point:
Am I completely without political thought or feeling? Absolutely not. But any opinions that develop are far too soft to threaten my responsibility to provide you with accurate information without a slant.
When done correctly, news reporting can be a very noble profession. Nobility often requires sacrifices so I’ll continue to stay home on election day.
But the great thing about being a reporter of news is that our pen is more powerful than the vote we can cast — another reason why it’s crucial for us to stay loyal only to journalism, not a particular candidate or political issue.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.