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Politico has a detailed story about Nate Silver's move to ESPN/ABC: Silver to Espn

More power to Silver, although it's a blow to the NY Times.

Still, there's reason to worry:

1. As others have noted, ESPN is a sports outfit that has been burned by 'Politics' in the past (witness the messy relationships with Rush Limbaugh and Dennis Miller). While ABC news is part of the umbrella, it could cause the right wing to go nuts if Silver makes too much news on the political front while also appearing on sports broadcasts

2. Silver does have a background in baseball stats, but, athletics is still different from polling. The human factor, including just plain good/bad luck, has more impact in the sports world than analyzing polls. A few wayward predictions (such as first picking the Patriots and Seahawks would be in the Super Bowl - neither were - and then picking the 49ers to beat the Ravens - nope!) will color some folks' perception of his political skills, and make him easier to dismiss.

3. The Oscars. I am a hardcore Academy Awards prediction shark myself. Nate Silver has been bad, and occassionally, laughably bad, prognosticator of these golden statues in the past. Hollywood is not a numbers game. You can't divine insight from knowing which film won Best Sound Editing in 1983 and expect it to project for the winner next year. You actually have to see the movies and, more importantly, know how Hollywood works and thinks. Again, foolish picks in an area out of one's expertise could tarnish Silver's rep.

In the end, I wish Nate Silver well. He was certainly a voice of reason during this past political campaign (and in years prior). But, I also caution him not to spread himself too thin.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Just To Be Clear Nate Got His Start In Baseball (21+ / 0-)

    stats. Some might say he has more experience there then in politics, even though that seems to have been his focus the last 6 plus years almost 24/7.

    •  One Other Sports Note For The Non-sports (7+ / 0-)

      fans here. He kind of wrote the baseball statistical model PECOTA.

      PECOTA, an acronym for Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm, is a sabermetric system for forecasting Major League Baseball player performance.
      He sold it to Baseball Prospectus and then worked there for a number of years.

      This doesn't worry me in the least, in fact I see it as Nate going back to his "roots." And if anybody here reads the team baseball blogs for SB Nation (also owned by Markos) you will see that baseball stats or totally out of control these days.

      I am a huge baseball fan and I read posts sometimes and I have to have Wikipedia open in another window just to figure out what all the stats now means. Factor in Fantasy Leagues and this is BIG money.

      I'd say a big, big win for ESPN.

    •  Yeah, but he did a thing where he was REALLY bad. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bob Duck

      Some sort of season book or something recently.

      "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

      by zenbassoon on Sun Jul 21, 2013 at 04:59:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  He's also going to be doing work (13+ / 0-)

    with ABC News during the 2014 election season, so we're not losing him completely from the political scene.

    And even the best prognosticators can fall victim to simple human circumstances -- witness the fact that the favorite to repeat in the NL West, my SF Giants, are 4.5 games back of the lead in 4th place (but with Bumgarner on the hill stand a good chance of sweeping the D-backs).

    Can't hurt to let him get back to sports -- might even keep his brain fresher for politics if he gets his head out of the Beltway thinking for a year.

    There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

    by Cali Scribe on Sun Jul 21, 2013 at 01:02:28 PM PDT

  •  Your worries are a bit unfounded. (13+ / 0-)

    1) Silver as noted, gained fame in baseball statistics long before his work in politics. Sports fans who pay attention to so called advanced metrics will love having him back. And it's really a disservice to Nate to compare him to Limbaugh and Miller. Besides the obvious differences, Nate has a background in sports and isn't being brought on as lame attempt to generate buzz.

    2) Lots of people who don't understand statistics will have this problem, see Joe Scarborough, much of the staff at Politico and many of the TV talking heads. So this is unavoidable. Perhaps Nate can try to do a better job of combating the ignorance of basic statistical inference, but that is a very tall order, especially with entrenched interests.

    3) Yeah his Oscars' stuff isn't really his strong point, but that's more of the nature of Oscar winners not being a amenable to statistical predictions like other areas such as baseball or politics. But he has been careful to point this out in he past,so someone would really have to be disengenuous to discount Nate's other work because Spielberg didn't win Best Director. That said, his predictions this year were pretty decent, and are usually a fun diversion from the more serious stuff he does (at least for a reader of his work, like me)

  •  Leave the Times? (0+ / 0-)

    Frank Rich went to New York Magazine. Still puzzling. Even more inexplicably Clive Barnes gave up the influence he had as the Times' theater critic to assume the obscure position of NY Post critic.

    In another realm,  it reminds me of Arthur Goldberg leaving the Supreme Court for the United Nations.

    Why, Nate, why?

  •  Are we worrying about Nate?? (8+ / 0-)

    Seems to me like the guy's doing just fine for himself.

    If you want another wonky, poll guy to follow there is always Sam Wang out of Princeton.

    I believe he did fractionally better than Nate in predicting election results, and I don't think he has any interest in sports.

  •  will it just be a way to silence him from politics (0+ / 0-)

    i wonder.

    "A dollah makes me hollah"-- Stephen Colbert, pretending to be S. Palin

    by stagemom on Sun Jul 21, 2013 at 02:06:30 PM PDT

    •  Don't confuse what Nate does to Rasmussen (0+ / 0-)

      I don't believe what Nate does as being political in the sense that Rasmussen tries to skew his polling data to the fright side.  As petral comments above

      " ...Nate said after 2012 that his poll aggregator  was pretty much done and could just about run itself."
  •  Wish him the best (0+ / 0-)

    As I noted, I wish him the best.

    I fully understand that Silver got his start in Baseball (and I certainly wasn't comparing him to Rush & D. Miller!)

    My main concern in writing the Diary is that, rightly or not, "Nate Silver" has become synonymous with "polling" like the terms "kleenex" and "xerox" with their products. Silver has no control over that, but, I fear it will give critics of polling in general that much more ammo with Silver spreading himself out that thinly (and the Politico article also mentions 'Education' and the 'Weather' - imagine the blowback if Silver predicts a major storm wrong??!!)

    Sure, the Scarboroughs and Faux News' of the world would attack the likes of Silver political analysis either way, but, making bad Oscar and Super Bowl picks will just make their job easier  (which might not such a bad thing if you think about it!).

    Part of me just wishes that Silver could have maintained his relationship with the NY Times for the hard news, while doing the sports stuff with ESPN.

    •  I think baseball has always been his first love. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catte Nappe

      Even when I started following his blog during the 2008 primaries, there were baseball stats on 538.

      My only concern is that I have access to his political polling during election years. The right tried mightily to unskew his polling in 2012 and it didn't do them much good. Although it did make Karl Rove's reaction to the loss of Ohio go viral.

      As long as ABC lets him blog his stats during the political races then I wish him all joy in covering sports the rest of the year.

  •  I think this is fairly straightforward (8+ / 0-)

    Nate and 538 get several months of intense web traffic every 2 years (elections), but the site is ignored the rest of the time.

    By going to ESPN, he gets web traffic whenever sports are played (damn near always), and then shifts over to ABC during the elections.

    For Nate, its a win, win.

    "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

    by Empty Vessel on Sun Jul 21, 2013 at 02:19:01 PM PDT

  •  Good luck, Nate. (2+ / 0-)

    I'm glad he's doing something that he likes.

    Last I checked, he doesn't have to clear his career choices with anyone.  

    The politics gig is high pressure. He gets a lot of flack from both sides. The rightwingers HATED him in the last election. And this site certainly had its share of "Nate Silver is an Obama hater" diaries because he relied on numbers, not emotion.  

    And gasp! he included polls we don't like!

    I don't know how many diaries I personally commented in wherein I said basically "calm down,  he's in the numbers business, not the PR business."  I certainly wasn't the only one walking from one "Nate is a sellout!"  diary to another with a fire extinguisher.

    If this site was all aflame, I'm sure he was getting hate mail like crazy.

    Why not go do something he likes?

    Besides, sports fans are so much more rational than politics fans. They'll never, ever, EVER send hate mail to him for picking the Yankees to win the World Series.

    Nope. Never happen.


    © grover

    So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

    by grover on Sun Jul 21, 2013 at 02:44:39 PM PDT

  •  I've got a bad feeling about this, too... (0+ / 0-)

    I can't put my finger on it, but him now working for ultra right wing Disney seems like a big red flag to me.  I hope they don't manage to stifle him too much... or even  manage to destroy him.  I'm sure that the politicos at Disney viewed him as the enemy, and you know what they say about keeping your enemies closer.


    by LordMike on Sun Jul 21, 2013 at 02:54:00 PM PDT

  •  I suppose he'll always be able to talk with Keith (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave in Northridge, Zorge


    A mutual interest in baseball and politics.

  •  ESPN seems to be swallowing up a lot (0+ / 0-)

    of our liberal heroes...first Keith Olbermann...and now Nate Silver.

  •  Shouldn't matter too much. (0+ / 0-)

    I'm sure Silver would argue that he doesn't drive the outcome, he merely aggregates available data to make more informed predictions. It doesn't matter if people believe him, agree with him, whatever, the outcome will be the same. Conservatives didn't believe him during the last election cycle and were shocked by the outcome.

  •  He was in sports a hell of lot earlier than he (0+ / 0-)

    was in politics.  As others have mentioned, his statistical modelling on baseball was how he cut his quanititave teeth.  He merely applied what he'd learned in sports to political analysis

    The only thing we have to fear is fear itself - FDR. Obama Nation. -6.13 -6.15

    by ecostar on Sun Jul 21, 2013 at 06:34:26 PM PDT

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