By Ralph Schwartz
Last time I blogged, I took a passing backward glance at the first presidential debate and promised I would follow up with a look at how the debate affected the polls, which to that point had generally favored President Obama. Would Romney’s resounding victory be reflected in the polls?
Well, since then I admit to having acquired a good case of poll fatigue. Part of me says, let’s do this election thing already and be done with it.
But let’s briefly talk polls, because ballots aren’t even mailed for another 10 days.
Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised to find out that the poll situation post-debate is muddled. Some favor Romney, but two actually show a wider lead for Obama. The president is also holding his own in the crucial swing states — the only polls that really matter, anyway.
I base the above on my reading of Nate Silver’s blog, FiveThirtyEight on the New York Times website. Until someone convinces me otherwise, Silver is the go-to guy for poll analysis.
I’m feeling a little “meta” today, so instead of talking more about predictions, let’s talk about the study of predictions. Silver has a new book out, “The Signal and the Noise: Why so Many Predictions Fail — but Some Don’t.” In it, he describes a study of the predictions of TV political pundits.
Turns out, they don’t do so well. If anything, their incentive is toward the outrageous rather than the accurate.
Silver discussed this study and a few other things last week on the radio program On the Media. (The link includes the 7-minute audio and the transcript.)
In this segment, Silver reminded me of what “media bias” is really all about. (That is, if you’re not Fox News, MSNBC, the Drudge Report or the Huffington Post.)
Silver says, “The classic media bias is rooting for the story. Certainly, after the conventions, I think that the press became very interested in the Romney is imploding story, but in the long run people sell more papers and they get more listeners and viewers if you have a close down-to-the-wire election.”
So if Romney’s still behind, then as a newspaper guy I’m going to say, “Go Romney!”