Unlikely Voter

Conservative views on polls, science, technology, and policy

Mark Blumenthal takes on Nate Silver

I’m not the only one who’s been skeptical of Nate Silver’s dogged attacks on Rasmussen Reports, demanding that they open up their secret sauce just because the firm’s results are less favorable to his preferred political party than other pollsters’ results are.

Mark Blumenthal is on the case, esposing what is fundamentally a hypocritical position by Silver and his site, fivethirtyeight.com.

I’ll quote you a key part:

Perhaps Silver sees his models as proprietary and prefers to shield the details from the prying eyes of potential competitors (like, say, us). Such an urge would be understandable but, as Taegan Goddard pointed out last week, also ironic. Silver’s scoring system gives bonus accuracy points to pollsters “that have made a public commitment to disclosure and transparency” through membership in the National Council on Public Polls (NCPP) or through commitment to the Transparency Initiative launched this month by the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR), because he says, his data shows that those firms produce more accurate results.

The irony is that Silver’s reluctance to share details of his models may stem from some of the same instincts that have made many pollsters, including AAPOR members, reluctant to disclose more about their methods or even the support the Transparency Initiative itself. Those instincts are what AAPOR’s leadership is hoping to use their Initiative to change.

Blumenthal is also active on Twitter trying to gather pollster rebuttals of the opaque Silver criticisms.

I look forward to continuing and active debate, with as much data as we can get, as opposed to the shouting and baseless accusations of the type that Silver frequently throws against apparently Republican-leaning firms like Strategic Vision and Rasmussen Reports. Challenging him by his own standards can only help this cause.


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