We got a modest amount of this in 2010, where I'd get Tweets saying things like "When did Nate become a Republican?" But I don't want to make it sound as though the two sides are equal. It seems as though a higher percentage of conservatives are more inclined to question empirical methods, to put it diplomatically….
It's MUCH worse in politics, I think: (1) People in sports will make lots of silly refutations of your arguments. But they do tend to deal with your arguments, rather than attack your character or your integrity. (2) A lot of people in politics operate in a "post-truth" worldview, whether they realize it or not. Less of that in sports. (3) In sports, scouts actually contribute a lot of value, even though statistics are highly useful as well. In politics, the pundits are completely useless at best, and probably harm democracy in their own small way….
Sam [Wang]'s projections also did very well. I got into these very heated debates with political scientists and economists early in the election cycle about the right way to model the election. But the DNA of these different approaches is 97% the same. I think we probably all feel some solidarity as partners in the War on Bullshit….>The polls showed Berg a little bit ahead. But also there weren't very many polls, so the model defaults in those cases toward looking at "state fundamentals", i.e. the fact that you'd bet on the Republican in North Dakota other things being equal. That race should also serve as a reminder that we put the probabilities in our forecasts for a reason. We had Heitkamp with a 8% chance of winning, I think, about the same as we gave Romney. Those 8% chances come up sometimes... they come up 8% of the time, in fact….
In the book, I talk to Bob Voulgaris, who is maybe the best sports bettor in the world. Super sharp. Works his butt off. He gets 57% of his NBA bets right, not more than that. The luck component is pretty large. I think we add value mostly by comparison because the pundits are the equivalent of the 1899 Cleveland Spiders….
Gallup has something of a point, in that if everybody just aggregates everybody else, you no longer have as much original content. And you may get groupthink and herding. You can draw analogies here between polling and the media landscape more broadly, I suppose. And/but: there's been something wrong with Gallup's polls for a long time. They need to open up the hood and be honest with themselves about this….
I think it's important for reporters to be better versed in math, statistics, logic, economics, etc. A lot of this stuff isn't all that complicated, so a little bit might go a long way. If I were running a gigantic news organization, I'd mandate that my reports take a few math and stats courses….
Chicago has better hot dogs. New York has better pizza. New Haven has better pizza than New York. Reykjavik has better hot dogs than Chicago….
Gotta run, but thanks for all the great questions and for your loyalty to 538.