commentary on Politics and a little bit of everything else

Nate Silver joins the Ohio State NCAA win crowd….

How We Made Our N.C.A.A. Picks


I participated in my first N.C.A.A. tournament pool in 1992 when, as a 14-year-old, I correctly predicted sixth-seeded Michigan to reach the Final Four.

I don’t particularly remember what went into the prediction, other than that the pool offered some ridiculous bonus for picking lower seeds — and also, since I grew up in East Lansing, Mich., I could be pretty sure that nobody else would be willing to go all-in on the team from Ann Arbor. I’ve never been asked to return the 75 “units” I took in for finishing first, despite the fact that Michigan’s Fab Five had to forfeit its wins for recruiting violations.

This year, we’ve decided to do something a bit more scientific, analyzing the results for all tournament games since 2003 (a total of 512 games) and evaluating which factors best predicted success. Our forecast is here.

The goal is to have a system that makes good statistical sense and also makes decent basketball sense, as opposed to identifying a bunch of spurious correlations. There’s no Da Vinci code for winning the tournament; it’s just a matter of playing good basketball.

Let me give you an overview of the system; there’s more elaboration down below for those interested in the gory details.

The Simple Version

– First, we create a power rating for each team. The power rating is an aggregation of four computer ratings and two human ratings, all of which have performed well at predicting tournament games in the past:

Objective (computer) ratings:

a) Jeff Sagarin “predictor” ratings;
b) Ken Pomeroy Pythagorean ratings;
c) Joel Sokol LRMC rankings;
d) Sonny Moore power ratings.

Read more…

This From Polticaldog101…


March 15, 2011 Posted by | Blogs, Breaking News, Entertainment, Media, Men, Polls, Projections, Sports, Updates | , , | Leave a comment

Nate Silver @ FiveThirtEight gets beat up again on his Pollster ratings…….Again….

I guess this goes back to tonight’s Apple post…

Once you get past a certain size everyone wants to know what type of underwear you have on….

Teagan Goddard of CQPolitics  uses Marc Blumenthal to  go after Nate Silver on transparency again…..

He does make one good point…..

Silver’s posts DO mean something these days……

From Politicalwire……

Mark Blumenthal looks at the transparency issues I raised with Nate Silver’s pollster scorecard and agrees it’s lacking in both the “database used to created to rate pollster accuracy and in regards to the details of the statistical models used to generate the ratings.”

Notes Blumenthal: “Many in the worlds of journalism and polling are taking these ratings very seriously. They have already played a major role in getting one pollster fired. Soon these ratings will appear under the imprimatur of the New York Times. So with due respect, these ratings deserve a higher degree of transparency than FiveThirtyEight’s typical work.”

In defending himself, Nate pointed to a 4,800 word explanation of his methodology and compared it to baseball, saying, “I’m sure that the first newspaper which printed a summary of batting averages took a lot of heat for it too.”

Perhaps, but anyone who has learned basic arithmetic can understand a batting average. Every baseball fan understands what it means and how it was calculated. But as Blumenthal clearly points out, even the experts in statistical modeling and polling can’t understand or assess what Nate is doing.

My point in raising this issue is not personal. I’ve enjoyed Nate’s work and think he’s been a very valuable political analyst over the last few years. In addition, I don’t have any business relationships with any pollsters. But the pollster scorecard as currently released is just not worth the attention it might otherwise deserve.

Check the comments to the piece …….they ARE  interesting……

June 15, 2010 Posted by | Blogs, Breaking News, Counterpoints, Media, Men, PoliticalDog Calls, Politics, Polls, Updates | , , , , | Leave a comment

Push back against Nate Silver from CQPolitcs…..

Nate Silver takes a little lumping from Taegan Goddard @ Politcalwire……….

Nate Silver’s pollster scorecard is an interesting experiment in trying to hold the political polling industry to a higher standard. It’s long overdue and could prove very useful to consumers of this information.

In explaining his methodology, Silver found that “the scores of polling firms which have made a public commitment to disclosure and transparency hold up better over time. If they were strong before, they were more likely to remain strong; if they were weak before, they were more likely to improve.”

But when I talk with pollsters about the latest scorecard, they’re universally puzzled as to why Silver doesn’t hold himself to the same level of transparency and release his database of polls. In fact, some even claim he’s using faulty data in putting together his rankings.

While Silver’s efforts are admirable — and even caused one of the more controversial firms to vanish from the scene — it’s a point worth considering before giving his pollster rankings too much weight.

Check the highlighted link for comments…..

June 10, 2010 Posted by | Blogs, Breaking News, Counterpoints, Media, Men, Politics, Polls, Projections, Updates | , , , | Leave a comment

Nate Silver rates Pollsters….

The Pollster ‘Wizard’ has released his rated list of polling outfits at last!

Let’s see…… ( Pollster’s w/ at least 10 polls )

Field Poll comes in first……

Rasmussen is 15th……

Daniel’s favorite Mason-Dixon is 9th……

Well poll jockies ….check for your favorite pollster and see how they rate from the Nate Silver, who just made it to the promised land….The New York Times by way of his own Blog site!

Pollster Ratings v4.0: Results

by Nate Silver @ 6:13 PM Share This Content

For a complete methodological discussion, see here. I’m just going to reiterate just a few very high-level bullet points.

— These ratings pertain to just one particular type of poll: those which attempt to forecast election outcomes, and do so in the public domain.

— These ratings reflect polling for President (general and primary elections), U.S. Senate, U.S. House, and gubernatorial races since 1998. More recent cycles are weighted more heavily. This is a truly massive amount of data: roughly 4,700 polls.

— The variable called rawscore is the most direct measure of a pollster’s track record. However, it is much inferior to PIE — or Pollster-Introduced Error — for evaluating the effectiveness of different pollsters on a going-forward basis. Because polling involves a great deal of luck in the near-term,rawscores must be substantially regressed toward the mean. However, different types of pollsters are regressed to different means. In particular, pollsters that have made a commitment to transparency and disclosure have been shown to have superior results over the long-run. The way we measure this is whether the pollster was a member of either the NCPP or the AAPOR Transparency Initiative as of 6/1/10.

— PIE is expressed as a positive number and reflects the amount of error that a pollster introduces above and beyond that which is unavoidable due to things like sampling variance. The lower a firm’s PIE the better.

The list below provides ratings for all firms with a minimum of 10 polls. A complete list of ratings (including for firms with fewer than 10 polls) follows it below the fold.

Ratings for firms with at least 10 polls Continue reading

June 6, 2010 Posted by | Blogs, Breaking News, Counterpoints, Entertainment, Government, Media, PoliticalDog Calls, Politics, Polls, Updates | , | 1 Comment

Nate Silver of FiveThirthyEigth…… will be featured at the New York Times…..

Congratulations to Nate!

He goes establishment……

He deserves it!

Damn….the numbers of hits at his site are gonna go off the chart!

Well……. with money he’s gonna get…..

He can get a dedicated server!


The New York Times said Thursday that it would begin hosting the popular blog FiveThirtyEight and make its founder, Nate Silver, a regular contributor to the newspaper and the Sunday magazine.

Mr. Silver, a statistical wizard, became a media star during the last presidential election season for his political projections based on dissections of polling data. He retains all rights to FiveThirtyEight and will continue to run it himself, but “under the banner and auspices of NYTimes.com,” The Times said in a news release.

The arrangement is similar to one The Times struck with the authors of the blog Freakonomics in 2007. The Freakonomics blog appears in the Opinion section of NYTimes.com. FiveThirtyEight content will be incorporated in the politics section of NYTimes.com.

Along with his contributions to the newspaper and The Times Magazine, Mr. Silver will also work with the journalists and software developers who create interactive graphics for NYTimes.com.

“Nate won considerable recognition during the 2008 presidential campaign for his timely and prescient reports on the electoral races and on public opinion,” Bill Keller, the executive editor of The Times, said in a statement. “We look forward to his unique perspectives on statistics, covering a wide swath of issues relating to politics, culture and sports.”

Before making a name for himself with political calculations, Mr. Silver’s specialty was baseball statistics. In 2002 he sold a predictive system he had built, called Pecota, to Baseball Prospectus. He was a managing partner at Baseball Prospectus until he stepped down in March 2009.

By then, he had turned his attention primarily to politics. In the early months of the last presidential election, Mr. Silver was disenchanted with media coverage and analysis of the primary election polls, so he started dissecting the data in blog entries on the Web site Daily Kos. “I get as excited about polls as anyone; at the same time, I believe that people tend to misuse them, focusing more on the end numbers and not so much on the internals,” he wrote in a blog post in December 2007.


June 3, 2010 Posted by | Blogs, Breaking News, Entertainment, Media, Men, PoliticalDog Calls, Politics, Polls, Projections, Updates | , , | 2 Comments

Nate Silver on Southern Primary Polls…..His Take……Those polls are often more than 9 Points off for Democrats….

Nate Silver of FiveTirtyEight finds in his research that Primary polls are notoriously off in their results….

Furthermore he reports that Southern Democrats tend to DO BETTER than most pollsters predict in their races….

Are we going to see some surprises and upsets in the upcoming Southern Primaries?

As we transition from a more generalist mode to focus more specifically on this November’s midterms, I’ve got a lot of of R&D to do. I’m generating a new set of pollster ratings, for instance, and building rigorous forecasting models for both the House and for gubernatorial elections, neither of which we had in place in 2008. These are time-consuming projects, and sometimes might eat into my ability to do day-to-day blogging. But trust me on this one — your patience will be rewarded, and we’ll have some very cool new initiatives to unveil soon.

One nice thing about doing this research, moreover, is that I’m periodically able to discover things that have more immediate relevance. For instance, we have a couple of important Southern coming primaries coming up: Alabama votes tomorrow, and there are key primaries in Arkansas and South Carolina the following week. How much faith should we put in the polls of these races?

The answer is not very much, especially in the case of Democrats. The chart below lists the average error in polls conducted of party primaries from 2000 to the present day, with the results broken down by party and region.**


May 31, 2010 Posted by | Blogs, Breaking News, Counterpoints, Media, Men, PoliticalDog Calls, Politics, Polls, Projections, Updates, Women | , , | Leave a comment

Nate Silver goes after Rasmussen Polling again…..

Man…Nate goes after Rasmussen Polling again!

…Like every two months …This happens……These two either don’t like each other….

……..Or have a secret pack to promote each other with bad recviews…..He, he, he

Have to be briefer than I’d like here, but I’m in the midst of putting together a new set of pollster ratings. In addition to populating the database with 2008 General Election results (as well as contests held in 2009 and 2010), I’m also doing a fair amount of backfilling to try to make the database, which goes back to 2000, more comprehensive. Previously, for instance, we did not have Rasmussen’s polling in place for 2000, which can be hard to come by. But thanks to the magic of The Internet (as well as a tip from Chris Bowers) I was able to track it down.

Here are the results of statewide polling in the 2000 Presidential Election. Although the pollster ratings will eventually involve some fancier math, the numbers you see below are as simple as it gets: I’ve simply looked at the average error of the last poll issued by each pollster in each state in terms of projecting the margin between Bush and Gore. (A cut-off is established 21 days prior to the election.)

While 2000 was generally a fairly rough year for pollsters, who had to deal with an unenthusiastic electorate, some third-party challengers, and some late-breaking developments like Bush’s DUI charge, Rasmussen was the worst of the lot, missing by an average of 5.7 points. They also called 7 states wrong.** Some of this was the result of bias, as they were 3.5 points too high on Bush’s margin in the states they surveyed, on average.

There’s More…

Note….Why does Rasmussen always put the GOP person on top in the poll results?

May 27, 2010 Posted by | Blogs, Breaking News, Counterpoints, Media, Men, PoliticalDog Calls, Politics, Polls, Projections, Updates | , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Rand Paul 25% ahead in the Kentucky Senate race…or 1%?

Nate Silver over @ FiveThirtyEight. has an interesting piece on the Rand Paul lead in the new Rasmussen poll…….

Unless you’ve been asleep for the past 24 hours……

You know that Rand Paul has run into a buzzsaw over his comments about the 1964 Civil Rights Bill……

Silver questions the Rasmussen 25% lead right off the bat…then correctly questions whether Paul is gonna have those numbers after the last 24 hours anyways…..

Pollster’s combined average has Paul ahead only by 1%…..

What’s the story here?

From Silver…….

I don’t quite know what to make of the new Rasmussen poll showing Rand Paul 25 (!) points ahead of fellow primary winner Jack Conway in Kentucky.

Paul has had a bad 24 hours in the Beltway media environment. Do I think that has any relevance whatsoever for Kentucky, a state which is culturally about as far removed from the Beltway as you can get? No, not really; it may even be a contrarian indicator. Nor is it unusual to see candidates get bounces after primary victories, although they often prove to be fleeting.

But. Rasmussen had shown a particularly large house effect in this race. Whereas the Pollster.com trendline of all non-Rasmussen polls had shown Paul ahead by just 1 point, Rasmussen’s trendline had him up by 15, even prior to this poll being released.

There’s More…

May 20, 2010 Posted by | Blogs, Breaking News, Counterpoints, Government, Law, Media, PoliticalDog Calls, Politics, Polls, Projections, Updates | , , , | 7 Comments

Nate Silver @ Fivethirthyeight on Specter/Sestak trends….

Here’s the trending from Nate Silver @ Fivethirtyeight….

The graph at his site is from Pollster.Com…and Sestek line is going up and Specters is dropping…

From Silver…..

I’ve gotten a couple of e-mails asking for comment on next week’s Pennsylvania Senate primary, in which Joe Sestak appears to be surging against Arlen Specter and has overtaken him in new Rasmussen and Muhlenberg polling. (The same people Daniel talks to! )

This is one of those times where the obvious answer seems to be the right one: the surge is probably real, and Arlen Specter may be in a great deal of trouble.

There’s More…

May 12, 2010 Posted by | Blogs, Daniel G @ PolitcalDog, Government, Media, Men, PoliticalDog Calls, Politics, Polls, Projections, Updates | , | 1 Comment

Nate Silver @ FiveThirtyEight on Rasmussen’s ‘House Effect’ for Republicans…..

Daniel here quotes Rasmussen Polling extensively……

I  have questioned  about the people there and their GOP leanings…..

And I never really use their numbers…

Daniel…to his credit after my comments uses other polling companies numbers much more…and will critique any abnormalities that are obvious…..

Nate Silver over @ Fivethirtyeight is a numbers junkie who is hard to understand sometimes……

But in  a post from April 17th..he tries to explain why Rasmussen’s numbers  tend to favor Republicans over Democrats. I must caution you……that even if most of the political junkie industry and I think they favor the GOP candidate……..

Daniel and Silver acknowledge the fact that Rasmussen is pretty good at having its polls pick election winners……and close on those final numbers…..


Here’s some from the Nate Silver piece……

Both critics and defenders of Rasmussen Reports’ polling have frequently cited Rasmussen’s use of a likely voter model to explain why their polls have tended to show substantially more favorable results for Republican candidates than the average of other surveys. I have often mentioned this myself, for that matter.

[ Scott Rasmussen ]

The argument goes like this: those people who vote most reliably in midterm elections tend to be older, whiter, and to have higher social status — which are also characteristics of voters that generally lean toward the Republican candidate. When coupled with what also appears to be a Republican enthusiasm advantage this cycle, it is quite reasonable to believe that a poll of likely voters (like Rasmussen’s) should show more favorable results for the Republicans than one of registered voters or adults (like most others).
This argument is completely true, insofar as it goes. But it is not sufficient to explain the bulk of the Rasmussen house effect, particularly given that Rasmussen uses a “fairly loose screening process” to select likely voters.

In fact, this is quite readily apparent. Although Rasmussen rarely reveals results for its entire adult sample, rather than that of likely voters, there is one notable exception: its monthly tracking of partisan identification, for which it publishes its results among all adults. Since Labor Day, Rasmussen polls have shown Democrats with a 3.7-point identification advantage among all adults, on average. This is the smallest margin for the Democrats among any of 16 pollsters who have published results on this question, who instead show a Democratic advantage ranging from 5.2 to 13.0 points, with an average of 9.6…….

More from Silver on HOW Rasmussen does its survey’s….

Why might these differences emerge? Raw polling data is pretty dirty. If you just call people up and see who answers the phone, you will tend to get too many women, too many old people, and too many white people. This is especially the case if you rely on a landline sample without a supplement of cellphone voters.

Pollsters try to correct for these deficiencies in a variety of ways. They may use household selection procedures (for instance, asking to speak with the person who has the next birthday). They may leave their poll in the field for several days, calling back when they do not contact their desired respondent. An increasing number may call cellphones in addition to landlines.

Rasmussen does not appear to do any of these things. Their polls are in the field for only one night, leaving little or no time for callbacks. They do not call cellphones. They do not appear to use within-household selection procedures. In addition, their polls use an automated script rather than a live interviewer, which tends to be associated with a lower response rate and which might exacerbate these problems. So Rasmussen’s raw data is likely dirtier than most.

But pollsters then have a second line of defense: they can massage their data by weighting it to known demographics, such as age, race, gender, or geographic location. This can work pretty well, but it is not foolproof; it requires some finesse. Moreover, some differences in response rates may not intersect neatly with these broad demographic categories. Pew has found, for instance, that those people who rely primarily or exclusively on cellphones tend to be somewhat more liberal, even after other demographic considerations are accounted for.

The bottom line is this: the sample included in Rasmussen’s polling is increasingly out of balance with that observed by almost all other pollsters. This appears to create a substantial house effect, irrespective of whether Rasmussen subsequently applies a likely voter screen.

The whole piece and comments from Silver @ FiveThirtyEight……

Here’s something interesting on Rasmussen Polling and the Stimulus Bill…

April 19, 2010 Posted by | Blogs, Breaking News, Counterpoints, Daniel G @ PolitcalDog, Media, Men, Other Things, PoliticalDog Calls, Politics, Polls, Projections, Updates, Women | , , , , | 3 Comments