Nate Silver Reveals Why We're Not Done With Polls After Trevor Noah Skewers Him for Being So Wrong This Election
"Daily Show" host Trevor Noah had some tough talk for a special guest just one week after the election: founder and editor-in-chief of FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver.
"This entire race, you were wrong," Noah told Silver about his acclaimed poll-aggregation technique.
"No, and I know it's like not an easy television explanation, but our job is—" Silver tried to answer before Noah cut him off.
"You're saying my people are stupid, Nate?" Noah asked, straight-faced, before hammering Silver on his poll selection and obsession.
"I mean, do we still call them the best polls if they were wrong?" Noah asked incredulously. "Why are people still looking at the polls?"
"A small, systematic polling error made a big difference," Silver said on November 11, three days after the election, in an article explaining why, on Election Day, FiveThirtyEight gave Donald Trump a 29 percent of winning the presidency, better than almost anyone else.
Silver previously admitted that his election forecasts earlier this year did not rely on a statistical model, which he blames for failing to predict Trump's rise since his presidential campaign began. Silver then explained that, in the end, the race was determined by the swing states, turnout and not taking anything for granted, such as winning traditionally red or blue states.
But now that Donald Trump is the president-elect, "What's the worst that could happen? What are the chances that he will follow through on building a wall, locking Hillary up and draining a swamp?" Noah asked Silver, recalling a few of Trump's prominent campaign promises.
"I'm not going to make any more predictions," Silver joked. But he also revealed a big reason why polls will still matter, at least for a little longer.
"I think that Trump's going to be very obsessed with his polling numbers, ironically, and his approval rating, and if he detects public pushback against his agenda, he might abandon things pretty quickly," said Silver, which gave the host an idea.
"Just tell him his numbers are low and then he'll become a better president," Noah suggested.