When a Huffington Post writer decided to attack uber-pollster Nate Silver for saying that Donald Trump has a legitimate chance to win the presidential election, he didn’t know he’d get the full brunt of Silver’s fire-breathing wrath.


Writer Ryan Grim called out Silver, saying he is “so fucking idiotic and irresponsible” for stating that Donald Trump has a more than 35% chance of winning the election. Silver, normally a hero of the left-leaning website for his comprehensive data, let loose on just how ignorant Grim and Hufffington Post are for drinking their own Kool Aid by latching onto a non-scientific poll showing Hillary has a 99% chance of winning.

The reason we adjust polls for the national trend is because **that’s what works best emperically**. It’s not a subjective assumption. It’s wrong to show Clinton with a 6-point lead (as per HuffPo) when **almost no national poll shows that**. Doesn’t reflect the data.

Every model makes assumptions but we actually test ours based on the evidence. Some of the other models are barley even empirical.

There’s also a gajillion ways to make a model overconfident, whereas it’s pretty hard to make one overconfident. If you have haven’t carefully tested how errors are correlated between states, for example, your model will be way overconfident.

Not just an issue in elections models. Failure to understand how risks are correlated is part of what led to the 2007/8 financial crisis. There’s a reasonable range of disagreement. But a model showing Clinton at 98% or 99% is not defensible based on the empirical evidence.

We constantly write about our assumptions and **provide evidence** for why we think they’re the right ones.

That’s what makes a model a useful scientific & journalistic tool. It’s a way to understand how elections work. Not just about the results.

The problem is that we’re doing this in a world where people– like @ryangrim (the HuffPo “journalist”) — don’t actually give a shit about evidence and proof.

The philosophy behind 539 is: Prove it. Doesn’t mean we can’t be wrong (we’re wrong all the time). But prove it. Don’t be lazy. And especially don’t be lazy when your untested assumptions happen to validate your partisan beliefs.

When you go low, I go high 80% of the time, and knee you in the balls the other 20% of the time.

SilverĀ also commented on Huffington Post’s lazy work ethic: