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As of this morning, New York Times poll guru Nate Silver is giving President Obama an 92% chance of winning reelection--an overwhelming advantage.
For the last couple of years, Silver has never shown Obama as having a less-than-even chance of winning, despite some polls that gave Romney an edge.
Unlike almost everyone else who prognosticates about the election, Silver has a highly detailed data-based methodology that averages hundreds of state polls and takes into account factors like economic data.
But we're in "silly season" now, so every time Silver opens his mouth, the folks who are rooting for Romney accuse him of being an idiot, being "in the tank" for Obama, or both.
This criticism itself is silly. Silver is transparent about the way his model works. The model could be wrong, but Silver has always been clear about the methodology. Those who slam Silver mostly don't like what his data is showing--that Romney is likely to lose.
The Silver critics are right about one thing, though:
If Romney does win, Silver's reputation will take a severe hit.
Unlike the vast majority of prognosticators and pundits, Silver has the balls to back up his model with his wallet and mouth. For the past couple of weeks, Silver has been extremely outspoken in defending himself, even going so far as to challenge pundit Joe Scarborough to a bet. This vocal defense has garnered huge publicity: Searches for Silver's name on Google have soared.
What that means is that Silver has, effectively, bet the farm.
If Obama wins, as Silver's model is now predicting, Silver's reputation will become gold-plated, and the traditional pundits who are calling the election a "toss-up" will look like clueless mealy-mouthed wimps.
If Romney wins, however, Silver's reputation will go "poof."
And that's the way it should be.
There is way, way too much consequence-free prognostication these days. Analysts like Silver deserve credit for laying it all on the line.
(For what it's worth, having listened to the logic of Silver and the Silver critics, I'm betting on Silver. He has calmly, patiently, and persuasively nuked every counter-argument that has been thrown at him. And his critics, meanwhile, are now just resorting to logic-free assertions and insults.)
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