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Stats United States Politics

Nate Silver's Numbers Indicate Probable Obama Win, World Agrees 881

An anonymous reader writes "The state-by-state election outcome probabilities today on Nate Silver's 538 imply a 97.7% probability for Obama to win 270 or more electoral college votes this coming Tuesday. A site that allows anyone but U.S. citizens vote seems to indicate that the rest of the world hopes these numbers are accurate. "
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Nate Silver's Numbers Indicate Probable Obama Win, World Agrees

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  • by Guano_Jim ( 157555 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @11:47AM (#41881021)

    The combination of the headline and TFS might be construed as "Nate Silver says that Obama's got a 97.7% chance of winning the election," which isn't quite true.

    I think it's more accurate to say that Nate Silver predicts an 86.3% chance of Obama winning 270 electoral votes.

  • by AdamHaun ( 43173 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @11:48AM (#41881043) Journal

    Nate Silver puts the odds at around 87%, largely based on the chance of there being a systematic offset in the polling data. Still looks pretty good for Obama, though. Fingers crossed.

  • It IS geek news (Score:5, Informative)

    by Tony ( 765 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @11:49AM (#41881057) Journal

    Nate Silver's use of statistics is geeky. Really. That's about all he talks about -- not politics, but statistics. (Well, and sports, but even there, he's all about the statistics.)

  • by TwobyTwo ( 588727 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @11:50AM (#41881085)

    According to today's actual posting from Nate Silver, the same data leads him to conclude an 86.3% chance of an Obama win in the electoral college. Still high, but your "Nate Silver's Numbers Project..." headline is true if parsed carefully, but very misleading. If you want to say "I conclude from Nate Silver's numbers...", well fine.

    Silver's Nov. 4 post is at: [] (paywall :-( )

  • by Kozar_The_Malignant ( 738483 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @11:55AM (#41881187) a shining example of nonpartisan analysis, sound statistics, and rational thought.

    That's a pretty good description of Nate Silver and why people pay attention to him.

  • by mrquagmire ( 2326560 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @11:56AM (#41881221)
    Does this model account for any direct or indirect vote tampering?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 05, 2012 @11:59AM (#41881249)

    Vote for the Mormon or you'll get the Muslim. Communism is NOT THE ANSWER.

    As a Brit, I honestly have no idea whether this is parody or not.

    As a foreigner having been living legally in a Southern American State for quiet a few years, I can inform you that it is sadly not a parody. It is frankly a very scary belief by many.

  • Re:Better... (Score:3, Informative)

    by yog ( 19073 ) * on Monday November 05, 2012 @12:03PM (#41881299) Homepage Journal []

    Lots of information there on Romney's policies and ideas.

    Why not simply inform yourself, rather than repeat these tiresome and slanted charges planted in your mind by partisan news sources?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 05, 2012 @12:04PM (#41881315)

    Population size has nothing to do with the sample size required for statistical significance. Effect size does, and with the votes currently standing at about 85% in favour of Obama, 1000 or so is more than enough, by a very long way. There are going to be strong biases in the sample, but that's a problem of sampling method, not sample size.

    But then, most Slashdotters know bugger all about statistics and will mod you up anyway. Complaining about sample sizes is pretty much a guarantee of +5.

  • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @12:06PM (#41881339) Homepage

    -the electronic voting machine will register their vote for someone who is not closely associated with the owner of the machine and software

    At least in Ohio, which everyone thinks is the only state that counts, that fear is probably unfounded. The reasons for this:
    1. The vast majority of votes will be cast using optical scan machines that were put in place in 2005 (by a Democrat), leave a paper trail, and have been used for several elections already without anything untoward showing up. That means that in order for Romney to win (based on recent polling), he'd need to make 100% of the electronic-only votes go for Romney, which would look a wee bit suspicious.
    2. Tagg Romney doesn't have much control [].

  • Re:uhh (Score:4, Informative)

    by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @12:08PM (#41881393) Journal
    Princeton Election consortium is projecting 99.9% win for obama. Dr Sam Wang is a very well respected professor of statistics. His methods are public. Votamatic has been projecting Obama win for a long time. Obama was leading in Nate's estimate for a long time. The high water mark for Romney was about 40% chance immediately after the first debate.
  • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @12:14PM (#41881473) Homepage

    We could cut it in half and still be the biggest on the planet by far.

    The info graphic that shows all the world's aircraft carriers is especially illuminating.

  • Re:97.7% (Score:5, Informative)

    by daw ( 7006 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @12:14PM (#41881481)

    The 538 website publishes the marginal probabilities of each state's outcome. The random anonymous script that is linked in this story just takes the product of these to compute the joint probability of Obama winning a particular set of states. This is of course a mistake. The probability that Obama wins Pennsylvania and Ohio is not the product of the probability that he wins each state separately, unless those two events are statistically independent. Of course, in reality and in the 538 model, they are not -- if Obama loses Pennsylvania he is also more likely to lose Ohio. I think this mainly accounts for the difference between the 538 prediction and the "prediction" of the random anonymous crap that the story links.

  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @12:15PM (#41881495)
    This again. Obama has been hamstrung by the gross incompetence of himself, his administration, and his allies in Congress. If you're within 2 votes for 2 years of overcoming the only serious obstacle to your legislative goals, then it's your fault not that of the opposition that you don't achieve those goals.

    Whatever else you can say about the Republicans, at least they acted more like grownups than the Democrats have for the last four years.

    Whilst the US system is pretty good, it can be really misused and this last 4 years is a textbook example of how to do that.

    What misuse? I see no drawback to the fairly successful Republican filibuster efforts to block bad law. And there's a good chance the Democrats will get to try their hand at it as well following this election.

  • Re:As a Canadian (Score:5, Informative)

    by sydbarrett74 ( 74307 ) <> on Monday November 05, 2012 @12:16PM (#41881501)

    Romney on the other hand is hard to pin down. He has taken every stance available on every issue.

    I'm not crazy about Romney, but Paul Ryan ('Eddie Munster') positively scares the fuck out of me. He really is an odious, red-eyed demon. If Romney wins and decides to delegate a lot of (albeit constitutional) power to Ryan, we could be in for a world of suck.

  • Re:uhh (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 05, 2012 @12:16PM (#41881511) []

    Sam Wang isn't a stats professor. He's a molecular biology/comp. neuroscience/biophysics guy. The election stuff is a hobby.

  • by ynp7 ( 1786468 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @12:24PM (#41881643)

    I think we can all agree that you're an idiot.

  • Re:Better... (Score:5, Informative)

    by artor3 ( 1344997 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @12:29PM (#41881765)

    His plans, according to his own site, are to peg military spending to 4% of GDP (a $200B/yr increase), and slash taxes in a number of ways that add up to $500B/yr. He promises that he will pay for this $700B/yr deficit by closing loopholes, but steadfastly refuses to say which loopholes. He has offered one idea: capping deductions, which isn't a bad plan, but it won't come close to making up that $700B/yr gap.

    That's what people are talking about when they complain he won't share the details of the plan. He's happy to give out the good details: cut taxes here, spend money there. But he refuses to talk about how any of that will be paid for. That's worrisome.

  • by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @12:32PM (#41881805)

    So you would rather be the evil empire than one of the good guys, duly noted.

  • Re:As a Canadian (Score:5, Informative)

    by bravecanadian ( 638315 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @12:32PM (#41881811)

    Romney on the other hand is hard to pin down. He has taken every stance available on every issue.

    I'm not crazy about Romney, but Paul Ryan ('Eddie Munster') positively scares the fuck out of me. He really is an odious, red-eyed demon. If Romney wins and decides to delegate a lot of (albeit constitutional) power to Ryan, we could be in for a world of suck.

    Agreed. Anyone who thinks that highly of Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged needs their head examined.

    Even one of the disciples, Alan Greenspan, finally admitted that so much of what he believed for so long about rational self interest didn't pan out in reality.

  • by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @12:35PM (#41881849)

    Google for "Obama's list of achievements" and you'll be surprised.
    I know I was.

    I'm starting to think that Obama is ropa doping and not really crowing about accomplisments while actually getting a lot done despite opposition from the party of "no".

    Even this late in the game I was suprised to here that he put back in "paygo" in 2010.

    I felt like obama was ineffective and spineless but apparently he's just wily instead of "testosterone he man" like bush/cheney were.

  • by Relayman ( 1068986 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @12:40PM (#41881951)
    We survived eight years of George W. Bush, you will survive eight years of Barack Obama.
  • by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @12:41PM (#41881981) Homepage Journal

    Also a President that will "detain" anyone "suspected" of terrorism. If the rest of the world cant' be free, why should America?

    ... and by "detain," we of course mean "summarily execute with a drone strike"

  • by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @12:41PM (#41881997)

    We have not had a left candidate that I can remember in my life. Surely not in the last decade.

    We have right and hard right. You can call that centrist if you like, but I will not.

  • Re:War Crazy Obama (Score:4, Informative)

    by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @12:46PM (#41882063)

    You mean Romney who went campaigning in Israel? That guy?

    1. Congress would let no president stop it.
    2. If he used soldiers you would complain about that.
    3. Osama was not a leader of an opposing military force, just a criminal.
    4. Yeah, Dubya never did anything like that, oh wait he totally did.
    5. just like the last guy and Romney would do.

    He is not much different, but just enough to be the lesser of two evils.

  • by dcollins ( 135727 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @12:46PM (#41882069) Homepage

    "Okay so you're talking about roughly six and a half billion people. As of the writing of this post,'s page says: 1050 VOTES have been received"

    This Is The Dumbest Goddamn Thing You Can Say About Statistics. []

  • Re:uhh (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 05, 2012 @12:55PM (#41882259)

    Nate's aggregate numbers allow for the possibility of systemic bias in the national and state by state polls, based on their historical distribution around the real election results.

  • by NatasRevol ( 731260 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @01:07PM (#41882505) Journal

    US voters get exactly the government they deserve.


    According to the WSJ (not a left leaning publication), after fixing Bush's failings, jobs under Obama have been going up WHILE he's been reducing gov't head count. []

  • by Simmeh ( 1320813 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @01:19PM (#41882739)

    And you're going to then utilize that as evidence that the rest of the world hopes that Obama wins? Surely this site isn't even worth mentioning in a news context.

    Please take it as given that the rest of the world is crying out for Obama to win. Both your parties are crazy, but the Democrats are somewhat closer to being actual human beings.

  • by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @01:21PM (#41882777)

    We are not talking about dealing with children, we are talking about adults making deals.

    We both want to lower the deficit, I want to increase taxes you want budget cuts. The simple answer really is to decide on the ratio. Anything else is being a petulant child.

  • by RazorSharp ( 1418697 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @01:29PM (#41882935)

    He was a Senator from Illinois. He knew exactly how Washington works. The fact he sold the US population on smoke and mirrors and they were dumb enough to believe it is what is laughable.

    US voters get exactly the government they deserve.

    His point was that he would fight for positive change and that it could be achieved if we worked for it. Well, half way through his term and all those people who showed up in droves to vote for Obama were noticeably absent in the congressional/gubernatorial election, leaving Obama with perhaps the most uncooperative congress since half the country walked out on Lincoln.

    Obama appointed qualified people. That was a positive change. He reformed healthcare, albeit not to the extent he wanted, and that was a positive change. He increased regulation of the financial industries, which is a hugely positive change. But most importantly of all, he kept the office out of the hands of McCain, who would have fought to implement negative change.

    You're right that the American people by and large are dumb and got exactly what they deserved, but you're a prime example of that, Mr. AC. Expecting the president to pull through with a bunch of sweeping reforms without a congress to back him up is asinine.

  • by Princeofcups ( 150855 ) <> on Monday November 05, 2012 @01:49PM (#41883309) Homepage

    Obama, for all his many faults, is at least not a complete moron.

    When did we go from Professor at a world class university to "not a complete moron." The man is genius level, at least when it comes to scholastics. Maybe not quite that level when it comes to politics, but he's smarter than most self professed nerds on this site.

  • by rgbatduke ( 1231380 ) <rgb@ph y . d u k> on Monday November 05, 2012 @02:02PM (#41883573) Homepage
    I've been tracking [] for some time now -- a University managed site that uses Bayesian analysis of all of the available polls to come up with their estimates. I tend to think that Universities are less likely to biased in their poll meta-analysis in the first place, and of course I'm a big fan of Bayesian analysis for large multifactorial problems with many levels of conditional and marginal probability. Anyway, this site is a lot less ambiguous -- it currently calls it for Obama at the level of 99.6% probability, with an expected electoral vote count of almost 303 for Obama (where "EEV" isn't an integer valued function but rather reflects the expected mean outcome of many "elections" held assuming that there is some sort of unbiased iid process underlying the poll noise). Romney's numbers are dropping, fairly rapidly, over the last week -- it looks like Obama is very likely to be 99.9% likely to win going into the actual election on Tuesday.

    You won't see this on the major news stations, of course, as they long ago gave up any pretence at objectivity in the election, and besides, if the election were statistically certain going into Election Day (as this one appears to be) it might actually influence the outcome, just as the stations that persist in claiming that Romney HAS a chance, or HAS "momentum" (whatever the hell that means outside of the context of physics in an environment where his polling numbers are almost without exception going down) are trying to influence the election, just as the stations that make the opposite claim for Obama are trying to influence the elections.

    The other nice thing about the election analytics site is that it also predicts the cumulative outcome of the Senate and House races. The Senate race currently suggests that Obama will win by enough to have some coattails to catch and help out in close races there, although the House races appear to be a lock at this point. We'll see if any house races end up as surprises -- possible if Obama beats 300 EV by a substantial margin, possible if the fact that the election is "over" in many states and districts causes the Republicans to just stay home and not bother to vote "only" for a congressional candidate where a lot of democrats show up to ride the Obama wave home.

  • by Culture20 ( 968837 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @03:22PM (#41884937)

    But he's fucking BLACK! Why would you want a BLACK muslim president???

    Unfortunately, that's still the predominant teabagger mentality. They simply can't see past their own prejudice well enough to realize that we are better off than 4 years ago, and no one (least of all McCain) could have fixed things in one term even if the republicans weren't constantly obstructing everything just to ensure the president's failure out of pure spite. If your post was meant as satire, then well done.

    If by "teabagger" you mean the infantile douches playing FPS who kneel on your dead avatar's head, then you may be right. Their comms are filled with racist diatribes.
    If, however, you mean a derogatory term for Tea Party members, then you're utterly wrong. Attend a rally, you'll be surprised.

  • by vakuona ( 788200 ) on Monday November 05, 2012 @06:14PM (#41887041)

    Keynesianism makes sense. There are times when you need to short circuit the economy to get it moving again. The government needs to put money into people's hands, and rather than just handing it out, why not spend on some infrastructure projects to achieve the upgrading of critical national infrastructure and to get money in people's hands so they can spend.

    Of course, there are limits to how much of it you must do before it becomes damaging, but you could say the same about anything really. They key is to make sure that you bank some in the good years (paying down the debt) so that in the bad times, you have good headroom to be able to stimulate the economy.

    Guess what the Republicans did during the boom years? The Republican party is not the party of the responsible! They are the party of the tough talkers though!

  • by tbannist ( 230135 ) on Tuesday November 06, 2012 @12:12PM (#41894431)

    Yup, I don't have facts. Of course, you'll protest Forbes as being "right wing" ... and HuffPo is unbiased .. right?

    That opinion article was written by someone actually working on Romney's campaign, a week before the election. It goes way beyond "biased".

The person who can smile when something goes wrong has thought of someone to blame it on.