Friday, November 2, 2012

Nate Silver and the latest NYT visualization

Mitt Romney may still win the presidential election, but it'll be really hard, according to the latest interactive graphic by The New York Times. Don't miss it. It is amazing in its simplicity, elegance, and depth. It's also a lot of fun, as it allows you to create whatever scenario you like with the nine undecided states.

You should read it right before the latest posts by Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight, where you can also see plenty of graphs and maps. The new visualization is timely, as it somehow provides visual evidence to Silver's logic and reasoning in a time when he is under fire from certain pundits that suffer from acute innumeracy.

The best summary of his little ordeal is aptly titled "People Who Can't Do Math Are So Mad at Nate Silver", but there are others, such as this one and this one, both written after Silver was admonished (justly, in my opinion) by the Times' public editor, Margaret Sullivan. This whole situation may be well a reaction to something that this review of The Signal and the Noise suggests: the kind of journalism that Silver and other database and precision journalists practice and are popularizing is a serious threat to the professional commentariat. Fortunately.


  1. It is a fantastic graph. I am really impressed that they made the maths so clear. It must be much harder than it looks. Choosing the order of the states for instance must have been difficult (unless it is just by number of votes in the Electoral College!). I'm not sure if it would help or confuse the reader, but I would like to see a bar chart at the top that fills up with every victory that one chooses. It would make the role of larger states even more obvious.

    Regarding Nate Silver's bet, you may be interested in his defense by Andrew Sullivan. I'm on the fence, but tend to think that it was not necessary: it make Silver look like he has skin in the game.

    On a side note, why not allow anonymous comments on your blog? It seems unlikely that people would come here to make nasty anonymous attacks.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Francis. As for allowing anonymous comments, I didn't even know that this option was off. I just changed it.