The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Signs and Omens: Obama’s Fading Hope and the Graveyard Whistling Choir

Posted on | October 23, 2012 | 59 Comments

Nate Silver continues to lead the Democrat Graveyard Whistling Choir, raising Obama to a 70.3% likelihood of victory based on . . . what?

I dunno. I’m not an expert with a New York Times column or anything, much less a Magical Forecasting Model™ that can divine future events with the precise scientific exactitude of 1/10 of one percent.

This morning, Silver told us that Ohio might be a crucial battleground, which may be news to a victim who just escaped from an underground rape-dungeon after nine months of being held hostage and tortured by a sociopathic sex offender. But to everyone else, it’s not news at all.

My apologies for the bizarre word-imagery. Debate-night aftermath, a shortage of sleep and other psychological stress sometimes have this effect on my prose. But don’t worry. After 24 debates in 16 months, I’m used to it by now. And speaking of bizarre word-imagery, Ace of Spades:

“It’s going to be a grim affair, grim and horrible and just sad, but there’ll be lots of alcohol.”

That’s in reaction to unmistakable evidence of doom and gloom in Obama’s increasingly desperate fundraising e-mails. The plural of “anecdote” is data, as they say, and you don’t need a Magical Forecasting Model™ to see the dots in this emerging gestalt pattern, including the Gloria Allred “October surprise” gambit. Never heard a peep about this until after Obama got his ass kicked in the first debate, did ya?

Four new national polls — Gallup, Rasmussen, ABC and Monmouth — show Romney leading, compared to one (IBD) that shows Obama leading. If you average those five most recent polls, Romney’s lead is 2.2 points, while the RCP national average (which includes earlier results) has Romney ahead by a more slender 0.9 points.

In other words, while I haven’t yet seen any polling that reflects reaction to Monday’s debate, the trend going into that debate was steadily in Romney’s favor, which in turn would rather tend to contradict any thought that the pro-Obama shift in Nate’s Magical Forecasting Model™ is a function of actual data inputs. There is a growing suspicion that Nate’s just pulling his “data” out of his ass and wishcasting, and if that suspicion should prove true — if it becomes clear Romney is heading toward victory and Silver is forced to scramble his numbers — it might produce the biggest scandal since we learned that Jayson Blair was filing West Virginia datelines from his Brooklyn apartment.

However, I have no definite reason to accuse Nate Silver of deliberate fraud, and it’s entirely plausible that he’s just the victim of his own erroneous faith in statistical modeling. And when Team Obama starts talking about scenarios where they can win without Ohio, maybe you want to add a few extra grains of salt to Nate’s numbers.

The first rule of Losing Ohio Club is you don’t talk about Losing Ohio Club.

Damn, I love that Ewok. But the thing is, to repeat: I dunno. Maybe tomorrow’s numbers will show a shift toward Obama, and maybe Gloria Allred will come up with the “October Surprise,” and all the confidence exuding from the Romney campaign will evaporate. Events cannot be predicted by polls and all we can do (unless we wish to make a claim to Special Expertise) is watch the trend and keep an eye out for the anecdotal evidence that might indicate which way the trend will go in future days. Here’s a possible clue:

My Virginia source couldn’t confirm that Team O has done this, mind you, but I spent three days driving across Virginia last week, and the lifelessness of the Democrat operation was obvious:

And as I pointed out in my column about Monday’s debate:

Romney said — quite accurately — that the U.S. Navy “is smaller now than at any time since 1917,” with fewer ships than the Navy says it needs. To this, Obama replied: “Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines. And so the question is not a game of Battleship, where we’re counting ships. ”
What in the name of John Paul Jones was this? Did the president sincerely think Romney needed to be told what submarines and aircraft carriers are? Fact-checkers were quick to point out that the Marine Corps still trains with bayonets, but the implication of Obama’s remark — that naval ships are as obsolete as 19th-century horse cavalry and bayonet charges — was certainly not likely to win him many votes in such swing-state Navy towns as Norfolk, Virginia, and Pensacola, Florida.

Virginia and Florida were already trending toward Romney. How many more votes will Obama lose in those states by his idiotic jab at the Navy? For that matter, how many Navy veterans (and bayonet-trained Marine veterans) are there in Ohio? Events, anecdotes, data — the facts accumulate steadily, like the bones of unfortunate victims buried in the backyard of a sociopathic sex-offender.

Damn. There I go again . . .

Halloween’s barely a week away, folks, and I’m thinking there might be ghosts in that graveyard the Democrats are whistling past.



UPDATE: Doug Hagin at Daley Gator doesn’t have a New York Times column, and neither do Bill Quick at Daily Pundit or Karen the Lonely Conservative. Little wonder, then, that these non-experts don’t have the Mystic Insight of the Grand Swami, Nate Silver.

Meanwhile, Donald Douglas at American Power sees the bones piling up in Ohio, and while Glenn Reynolds is merely a Yale-trained law professor — and thus, not an expert like the Grand Swami — they have consented to give the professor a column in USA Today that might be worth reading.



  • smitty

    Nate Silver’s model is based upon the proven sleepiness of Americans. What Nate misses is that a Yamamoto moment has happened.

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  • JeffWeimer

    They brought the Navy remarks up on CBS evening news today. Cut Obama off right before he got sarcastic. Trying to keep him from looking bad? I think so.

  • terry

    No fraud. Nope. Nothing to see here. It’s just a Democrat thing.

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  • Mike G.

    Admiral Smitty probably knows more about this than the rest of us, but doesn’t an Aircraft Carrier task force usually consist of about ten or twelve other ships and boats? And don’t we have about three different task forces in the Middle East between the Med and Arabian Sea. That’s about 20% of our Navy in one theater of operations.

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  • Voting Female

    Hastening liberal squamous to peregrinate, I see. Carry on. 🙂

  • elaine

    Don’t worry. Ghosts always vote democrat…

  • sheryl

    It’s going to be a bloodbath. A super duper full on red map for Romney on election night. I lived through Carter, and in hindsight, looking in the wayback machine, it doesn’t seem as bad. Carter lost big, and he didn’t even have Obamacare. We told him we didn’t want Obamacare, over and over again. Things could have been different, but he chose his own path.

  • Evi L. Bloggerlady

    Nate’s algorithms seem off.

    I thought this was interesting…

  • Evi L. Bloggerlady
  • Evi L. Bloggerlady

    Especially in Chicago. Let’s hope they don’t start making apparitions in Toledo, Akron, and Cincinnati

  • Kathy Hutchins

    “Obama’s remark — that naval ships are as obsolete as 19th-century horse cavalry and bayonet charges — was certainly not likely to win him many votes in such swing-state Navy towns as Norfolk, Virginia, and Pensacola, Florida.”

    Hell, he may have put Connecticut back in play with that dumbass remark.

  • Crossed Sabres

    Nate’s model shows the Yankees over the Cards in 6

  • DonaldDouglas
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  • Rick

    I’m thinking he loses votes in the Midwest with his stupid comment about the 1980s. He wants to rebuild the Berlin Wall? Have Russia reoccupy Eastern Europe? Bring back Ferdinand Marcos. Support a restoration of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge?

  • SeanSorrentino

    Wiki says it’s about 6 or 7. I guess that for Obama, Navy math is hard. We have 11 Carrier Strike Groups. That’s 66-77 ships right there. Then we have the Expeditionary Strike Groups, which have 6 surface ships and one of those ships that goes underwater. There are 12 ESGs, for a total of 72 surface ships and 12 underwater ships. So we are at 150-160 total vessels just in combatant and amphibious transport ships. That doesn’t count the nuclear missile carrying underwater ships, which I believe are still considered important in our national defense. According to Wikipedia, the US Navy has 287 ships.
    It’s not like we can decide that the various groups can run around without their escort ships. The only way to reduce ships is to reduce the number of Strike Groups. Ships run on a 2 year schedule. 6 months of workups, 6 months of deployment, 6 months of reserve/replacement in case the deployed ship gets broken, and 6 months in the yards. That means 4 separate phases, or just 3 Expeditionary Strike Groups out at any time, and less than three Carrier Strike Groups. We lose Groups, we lose capability. We have two oceans just on either side of us. If we want to put a Strike Group in the Indian Ocean or near the Middle East, we need that third group to be deployed or we are short somewhere else.
    Oceans are big. It takes time to get anywhere. With fewer ships, fewer groups deployed at any one time, it takes longer to get to any potential trouble spot. Instead of having less we need more. Otherwise we up our operational tempo, trash equipment by operating it too long without yard maintenance, and destroy our sailors and their families.

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  • Piltdown Ghost

    Given the … boldness … of Nate’s predictions he can always find work once the election is over as a climate scientist.

  • A Smith

    But Republicans are, like, mean and stuff.

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  • Adjoran

    But America has gotten softer, weaker, and dumber in the intervening decades. Public education is a big part of the problem, but in any case people are far more inclined not to understand issues and to accept socialism philosophically than in 1980.

    We are getting close to the tipping point, Romney’s 47% core Obama support is about right, but not because all of them get a check. That’s the scary part. There are some people with education and skills out there who swallow the bilge from the left.

  • Adjoran

    Silver’s model’s precision is laughable. It seems to discount all events – which history shows are far more influential than polls 60 days or more out. And as the NumbersCruncher guy pointed out, Silver seems to “weight” polls not by sample size, pollster records, or anything other than whether he likes the result. So he’s just doctoring the numbers to get the result he likes.

    I don’t believe you can predict elections with statistics anyway, but I know you can’t if you’re getting funny with the numbers.

  • John Scotus

    Nate is just engaging in wishcraft. Sometimes he makes interesting an enlightening points, but the closer we get to election day the more his articles read like pure fantasy.

  • The Fop

    In the last book he wrote before he died, Andrew Breitbart devoted a whole chapter to the premise that media bias got much worse after the MSM failed to prevent the Monica Lewinsky scandal from becoming a big story. They were livid over the fact that the Drudge Report was able to accomplish what they tried so hard to prevent.

    So they made up their minds that they’d go after the next GOP POTUS with both guns blazing, which they certainly did. When Obama got elected, the flip side of this new found blatant bias occurred. In the same way they went after Bush harder than any other other GOP POTUS, they tried to protect Obama like no other Democrat POTUS. They fact that he was Black gave them even more incentive to do so.

    Add to that the fact that Obama is nothing more than a Left wing, college campus version of Ryan O’Neal in Paper Moon. He’s coasted his whole life on being the articulate Black guy that White people love to love. So put the two together and you have a POTUS and a media who think they can get away with anything, hence all the lies about Benghazi.

    How fitting it will be to see this unholy alliance come crashing down on 11/6/12. Obama will be pissed, but the MSM will be really, really pissed. Obama is a huge danger to this country. The MSM is an even bigger danger.

  • Garym

    The CBS focus group did not like Obama’s unpresidential condesension in that segment of the debate.

  • Charles

    Undecideds are breaking towards Romney in the national polls, but are holding back in the swing states so they can see what happens on the next campaign swing through their state.

  • Wombat_socho

    If he’d been this sloppy in his baseball days, he’d still be living in Mom’s basement, posting rants on a forum about how the Tigers never should have made the playoffs.

  • Wombat_socho

    Well, it’s not like the President really cares about those sailors and their families. It’s not like they’re part of the Democrat base, after all.

  • Wombat_socho

    Well, yes, he does, but he can’t SAY that now, can he?

  • Wombat_socho

    Judging from recent polls on the Senate race, you may be right. McMahon in 2012: Smackdown on Liberalism!

  • elaine

    They’ve been voting in Houston since 2006.

  • elaine

    He’ll have a lot more flexibility after the election…

  • Bob Belvedere

    Great work, Sean.

  • Bob Belvedere


  • JeffWeimer

    Apparently they didn’t want to disease to spread.

  • Cube

    Regarding model precision, while the spreadsheet may give you a result with 10 digits past the decimal point, not all of them are meaningful. In science we talk about Significant Figures and beginners often have a hard time grasping the concept. Once in a while, it even trips up someone who knows better.

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  • Thucydides_of_Athens

    Of course Obama seems to have also forgotten (if he ever bothered to know) about the SoF forces riding horses in Afghanistan to link up with the Northern Alliance forces in 2002

  • Mike G.

    Thanks Sean. But, not to quibble here…doesn’t a carrier task force also or usually have at least one attack boat running interference around the task force to keep the boogieman off?

  • Doug Gonya

    Nate Silver’s precious model does not seem to take account of the fact that undecided voters tend, historically, to break for the challenger by at least 3:1.

    So, 2 weeks out from an election, if you have a state like Ohio where you have a poll showing a 48:48 tie with 4% undecided, then its a safe bet the challenger wins 51:49.

    Silver *should* be rating Ohio, based on the above, as leaning Romney. If Ohio really is a 48:48 tie right now, then Romney’s got about a 2/3 chance of winning it. Given where he is at in other states, Romney therefore should currently be rated at about 67% chance to win the electoral college.

  • Doug Gonya

    Yeah, good analogy. “Climate Science”, scare quotes required, is based almost entirely on computer models designed to produce the desired result. The models are, of course, top secret. Likewise, the data is either bogues to begin with or cherry picked.

  • SeanSorrentino

    Well, it’s a ship that goes underwater, so I can’t see it. Neither can Obama. It’s a pretty easy way to have fewer ships since no one will ever know it’s gone! Well, at least until the opposition subs sink all the aircraft carriers.
    When I was in the Navy I was an enlisted boiler operator in an amphibious ship. They didn’t teach us a huge amount about the Carrier Strike Group composition. This is just what I picked up by accident supplemented by what Wiki says.
    If anything, that’s an even bigger indictment of Obama. If an enlisted boiler operator can work out the practical implications of eliminating strike groups better than Obama, then what the hell does Obama think he’s doing being Commander in Chief?

  • Denise Betters

    I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it.
    John Stuart Mill

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  • Eanders1

    Philistines all of you. Fun to read for a laugh though.

  • Mike

    So… you admit that you don’t really know how the system works, but you still bash it for being inaccurate. Immediately after you said you don’t know how it works. Do you suppose that should give you more credibility in this case, or less? Because it seems like you’re complaining about Nate Silver because his math says something that you don’t like. Why don’t you see what data goes into his model, and, if you still don’t like it (or if it’s wrong), you can write about THAT instead. That would have been great to read! I love to see politicians called out on foggy math! But this… this is nonsense.

    “However, I have no definite reason to accuse Nate Silver of deliberate fraud…”

    Lol, of course, you don’t, because you have no clue how the model works. It correctly determined 49 of 50 states in the last election, and has had exceptional success with congressional elections, as well. Is that all magic, too? When do too many coincidences turn into “math and science?” No, you’ve got no definite reasons, but you’re not short on insinuations, are you?

    Oh, and I wouldn’t bring up the whole navy thing, no matter how much you think it helps your argument. It definitely doesn’t, and, in doing so, you attract the wrong kind of fact-checking attention –