Nate Silver and Sam Wang’s Obama predictions put to the test

Por en EEUU 11/6/12 8:53am
Statistician Nate Silver speaks in 2009. Silver has said President Obama has a 92 percent chance of being reelected. (Creative Commons, Randy Stewart)

It’s Election Day 2012, and the moment of truth for presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

But they’re not the only ones whose careers are on the line.

Statisticians Nate Silver and Sam Wang have both predicted Obama victories.

As of this morning, Silver’s FiveThirtyEightBlog gave Obama a 91.6 percent chance of winning and said he would likely win 315 electoral votes to Romney’s 225.

Wang wrote on his Princeton Election Consortium site that Obama will earn 312 electoral votes.

The number necessary to win the presidency is 270 electoral votes.

Both men have created predictive models that use daily state and national polls to generate probabilities that candidates will win specific states.

The larger the lead in the polls, the greater the chance the candidate will win that state.

Silver gives Obama a 100 percent chance of winning California, for example, and Romney the same likelihood of taking Texas.

On the national level, Wang gives the president a 100 percent chance of being re-elected.

These type of statements have made Silver in particular a target from critics, some of whom accuse him of being biased in favor of the president.

Last week, after being publicly trashed by conservative radio host Joe Scarborough, Silver bet him $2,000 that his prediction of an Obama victory was right.

The New York Times’ public editor Margaret Sullivan reprimanded Silver for this action because he was representing the newspaper.

Both men have attracted enormous attention. Wang wrote on his blog yesterday that he had received 350,000 page views and Silver has 314,144 followers on Twitter.

Silver will be in Chicago on November 9 as part of the Chicago Humanities Festival.

We will look to catch up with him then.

In the meantime, we will continue to cover today’s election and to see if his and Wang’s predictions turn out to be correct, or if they become the 2012 digital version of the Chicago Tribune’s legendary “Dewey Defeats Truman” headline.