Confused by the polling superstorm? Confounded by contradictory pundits? Then get a dose of Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog. a deep, dense statistical analysis of the presidential race.
This week he plumbed the national and battleground-state polls. His conclusion: “Obama remains the favorite in the Electoral College.”
“Mr. Obama is not a sure thing, by any means. It is a close race. His chances of holding onto his Electoral College lead and converting it into another term are equivalent to the chances of an N.F.L. team winning when it leads by a field goal with three minutes left to play in the fourth quarter. There are plenty of things that could go wrong, and sometimes they will.
“But it turns out that an NFL team that leads by a field goal with three minutes left to go winds up winning the game 79 percent of the time. Those were Mr. Obama’s chances in the FiveThirtyEight forecast as of Wednesday: 79 percent.”
Most political discussion is dominated by hunches, guesses and speculation. The best antidote is good data and good analysis of the data. Since I’m not paying a good pollster for that, I find Silver to be the next best thing.