Data versus intuition in predicting the election outcome
The Kansas City Star
Daniel Patrick Moynihan is reported to have said, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts.”
However, I fact checked this quote and discovered there is some controversy over who originally said this as well as what Moynihan exactly said. Sigh.
So, as it turns out, maybe everybody can have their own facts. Which is apparently what Republicans believe about Democrats. And vice versa.
Nevertheless, I persist in believing there are facts, and I regularly read many of the fact checking sites, though, and I admit this contradicts my premise, I think some of these sites try so hard to appear impartial that they miss the truth. WWDD? (What would Diogenes do?)
You have your PolitiFact.com, FactCheck.org, OpenSecrets.org, Snopes.com, TruthorFiction.com and HoaxSlayer.com. OpenSecrets looks mainly at political money and HoaxSlayer at scientific myths.
But it appears that HoaxSlayer is the work of one guy, so it’s not exactly a jury opinion. PolitiFact is run by a Florida newspaper, so (irony warning) how reliable could it be.
Aaaaarrrgggh. Maybe there are no facts.
But polling data. Surely it’s factual. But the polling data about the upcoming presidential election at first blush seems contradictory with some showing the presidential race a dead heat, others shown one candidate or the other in the lead. On the same day.
You have pollster.com, fivethirtyeight.com, and RealClearPolitics.com. All these sites analyze polling data and try to separate the wheat from the chaff. Other non-data analysts say Romney has momentum and will win.
Psychologists have an ongoing battle with one faction that believes clinical judgment trumps a cold empirical analysis and another faction that believes the opposite. This is called Escoffier versus Betty Crocker…the famed French chef who worked without a recipe versus the queen of the stringent recipe.
Regarding the polls, data analysts say the nation is evenly divided on the upcoming presidential election but that the president has the electoral college edge. Statistics guru Nate Silver gives Obama a 75% chance of a win on Tuesday.
As you know, others disagree, citing Escoffier-like intuition about the mood of the nation.
I’m going with Silver over Escoffier.
But the matter will be settled on November 6th.
Unless it’s not.