Democrats Talk Down Nate Silver's Political Forecasting

Tuesday, 25 Mar 2014 09:18 AM

By Elliot Jager

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Statistician Nate Silver, who forecast President Barack Obama's 2012 re-election victory using state-by-state numbers crunching, has come under Democratic fire for saying there is a strong chance that the GOP would capture the U.S. Senate in 2014, The Hill reported.

Silver had been considered a guru by Democrats and disparaged by Republicans for his "flawed modeling."

Silver wrote, "Republicans are now slight favorites to win at least six seats and capture the chamber." He's forecast that the GOP could win as many as 11 seats, estimating the prospects of a GOP takeover at 60 percent, according to The Hill.

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) head Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado told The Hill, "I think he's got his numbers wrong, which is unusual for Nate. In this case, I look forward to talking to him after the election."

Bennet said that Silver had been mistaken in the past.

Facing a difficult re-election battle, Alaska Democratic Sen. Mark Begich said it was too early to comment on Silver's prognostications. But Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas said he doesn't agree with Silver's assessment that he has only a 30 percent chance of winning re-election.

DSCC Executive Director Guy Cecil criticized Silver in a memo arguing that he and his FiveThirtyEight.com staff were disproportionately basing their analyses on GOP polling data.

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., whose 2012 re-election Silver got wrong, said, "I don't agree with Nate's assessment. He thought I was going to lose the day before the election."

Silver, who formerly worked for The New York Times, also came in for criticism from one of the paper's top columnists, Paul Krugman. He described Silver's website as looking "like something between a disaster and a disappointment."

Krugman, a Nobel Prize-winning liberal economist at Princeton University, said Silver had not properly developed his analytical tools.

If Democrats lose the Senate, the GOP would gain control of both houses of Congress during Obama's last two years in office.

Silver is not the only one predicting a GOP win. MSNBC host Chris Matthews believes Democrats could drop as many as 10 seats in the Senate, The Hill reported.

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