All Aboard the Nate Silver Bandwagon!

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AMNESIA JULY 23, 2013

All Aboard the Nate Silver Bandwagon!

It’s been a marvel these past few days, watching Washington players who mocked or dismissed prognosticator extraordinaire Nate Silver rushing to get on his right side, even as some act as if they never questioned him to begin with. Case in point: Huffington Post's Howard Fineman:

October 25, 2012:

Nate Silver, NYT: “Mr. Romney clearly gained ground in the polls in the week or two after the Denver debate, putting himself in a much stronger overall position in the race. However, it seems that he is no longer doing so…This is the closest that we've come in a week or so to one candidate clearly having "won" the day in the tracking polls - and it was Mr. Obama.”

October 27, 2012:

@HowardFineman:  “It's not scientific or quantifiable by Nate Silver but Des Moines Register endorsement of Mitt first time it's' clear O may lose the race.” (486 retweets)

November 9, 2012:

Des Moines Register: “President Barack Obama won Iowa by about 6 percentage points by matching or eclipsing his historic 2008 turnout numbers in five of Iowa's biggest metropolitan counties.”

July 22, 2013:

The Guardian: “The top forecaster in American politics has announced he is leaving the nation's most prestigious newspaper for a new home with the world's premier sportscaster. Nate Silver is joining ESPN from the New York Times after a stunning three-year run in which he coolly nailed the biggest election calls, attracted an enormous readership and silenced pundits whose mouths were previously thought to be un-stanchable.”

July 22, 2013:

@HowardFineman: “#NateSilver disrupted -- destroyed -- much of conventional political reporting. He is the Pulitzer of Big Data, deserves the $/power/reach.”

Ain’t self-awareness a beautiful thing? Who knows whether Fineman's tweet and similar encomia are a sincere acknowledgment of Silver's triumph or just a far-sighted gambit to get on the list for Super Bowl tix. We’ll find out next election season, when we see whether the un-stanchable pundits vanish from the scene—after all, they were "destroyed," right?—or assume their usual positions. If I was wagering probabilities, I would bet on the latter. Because really, if we can’t wax on about the Des Moines Register endorsement, what else have we got to do with ourselves?

Alec MacGillis is a New Republic senior editor. Follow him @AlecMacGillis.

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posted in: the plank, punditry, nate silver, fineman, politico, fivethirtyeight

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