Five-star election forecaster Nate Silver did a great Q&A at Reddit yesterday. The transcript is posted at the Times today. Couple of excerpts:
Q. Do you believe the theory that Anonymous stopped Karl Rove from stealing the election via hacking electronic voting machines?— cpresc12A. No.Q. Nate, do you think most of the popular news sources (cable, network, newspapers) intentionally overlooked the data analysis from you and those like you in order to hype up the 2012 election?— sghallmarkA. News organizations tend to have incentives to "root for the story". Part of what were were saying for much of the campaign — both at different stages of the general election and perhaps even more emphatically in the end-stage of the primary when Romney pretty much had things wrapped up — is that the outcome had become fairly certain. So that creates a bit of a culture clash.Q. Are you concerned that during future elections, the accuracy of your predictions will lull readers into a mindset of “it has been foretold, therefore I needn’t bother to vote”? — whydidijoinredditA.It worries me a bit. There is probably a danger zone in which a candidate's supporters take for granted that he'll win the election and so don't turn out to vote, but the election is nevertheless close enough for him to lose. That may have happened in the Democratic primary in New Hampshire in 2008, for example. There were a lot of reasons why Hillary beat her polls, but one contributing factor may have been that a lot of independent voters who would otherwise have voted for Barack chose to vote in the GOP primary instead since it seemed more competitive.Q. Were the Romney campaign predictions a result of bad polling, analysis, or just group think? — TheGribblerA. Groupthink and perverse incentives were the causes; to the extent their polling or analysis was bad, it flowed from that.
Q. What’s been the strangest experience you’ve had due to your sudden fame?— sharilynjA. When I was in Mexico last week, I got recognized at the top of the Sun Pyramid at Teotihuacan, which I'm pretty sure really is a sign of the Apocalypse.