Do Republicans owe Nate Silver an apology?

The election results closely matched the data-guru's projections — the same forecasts conservatives consistently dismissed. Are they ready to eat crow?

Nate Silver in 2009
(Image credit: CC BY: Randy Stewart)

"Skewed!" In the lead-up to the election, that conservative cri de coeur met almost every poll showing President Obama with a lead in the Electoral College. And no forecaster bore the brunt of conservative ire more than The New York Times' polling guru, Nate Silver, who steadfastly projected an Obama win with almost cocky certainty, even when Mitt Romney's numbers surged after the first debate. Conservative commentators muttered dark suspicions that Silver was juicing the stats, or voiced skepticism about his methodology, or complained that his projections simply couldn't be right given how close the race was on a national level. But when the votes were counted on Nov. 6, and Obama wrapped up the Electoral College before Virginia or Florida were even called, Silver was vindicated. Many Romney supporters were stunned that Obama had won so decisively. Do conservatives owe Silver an apology?

Yes. Nate Silver crushed the election: "Nate Silver was right," say Jonathan D. Salant and Laura Curtis at Bloomberg. He predicted the correct result in every state, including the nine battleground states (if Florida ends up being officially called for Obama) that theoretically could have gone either way. "Silver infuriated conservatives with his model, which uses a number of measurements and calculations, including attention to state polls," but it turned out to be an incredibly reliable snapshot of the voting electorate.

"Nate Silver-led statistics men crush pundits in election"

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Conservative media should apologize to their viewers: "On the biggest political story of the year, the conservative media just got its ass handed to it" by Nate Silver, says Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic. Bucking Silver's perfectly reasonable conclusions, Fox News luminaries like Karl Rove and Dick Morris predicted a big victory for Romney. The result? Conservative voters went into the election at an "information disadvantage," leaving baffled Romney supporters asking: "Why were we the last to realize that things were going wrong for us?"

"How conservative media lost to the MSM and failed the rank and file"

Conservative media won't change: The conservative media's problems with the facts reached a nadir when Fox's Rove "frantically strove to deny his own network's call of the presidential election," says Andrew Leonard at Salon. The election's results should be a bracing wake-up call, but "the urge to deny reality runs astoundingly deep at the heart of the right-wing propaganda machine," and "even two terms of Barack Obama might not be enough to cure that sickness."

"Time for a conservative gut-check"

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