Posts Tagged ‘Nate Silver’

Does Trump represent U.S. working people?

May 7, 2016

The following is from Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight web log.

Trump-Iowa-supporters-Getty-640x480It’s been extremely common for news accounts to portray Donald Trump’s candidacy as a “working-class” rebellion against Republican elites.  There are elements of truth in this perspective: Republican voters, especially Trump supporters, are unhappy about the direction of the economy.  Trump voters have lower incomes than supporters of John Kasich or Marco Rubio.  And things have gone so badly for the Republican “establishment” that the party may be facing an existential crisis.

But the definition of “working class” and similar terms is fuzzy, and narratives like these risk obscuring an important and perhaps counter-intuitive fact about Trump’s voters: As compared with most Americans, Trump’s voters are better off. The median household income of a Trump voter so far in the primaries is about $72,000, based on estimates derived from exit polls and Census Bureau data. That’s lower than the $91,000 median for Kasich voters. But it’s well above the national median household income of about $56,000. It’s also higher than the median income for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders supporters, which is around $61,000 for both.

Source: FiveThirtyEight

Other polls indicate that Trump supporters represent a cross-section of the population rather than just wage-earners.  And, in general, people who vote, especially in primary elections, are on average better educated and better off than the population in general.

But, as Silver noted, a great deal of Trump’s appeal is in his promise to get the economy moving again.

What’s going on?  I think it is the discontent of middle class people who are losing their middle class income and status—people who once had good professional or skilled trades jobs, but are now just getting by with a series of temporary and part-time jobs; young people with good educations under a crushing burden of student debt; employees of large organizations who live under the threat of downsizing.

Eric Hoffer, in The True Believer, wrote that poverty and oppression, in and of themselves, do not cause political and social upheavals.  If they did, the world would be in a constant state of revolution.  Revolutions occur, he wrote, when people lose something they feel they’re entitled to, or when they’re given false hopes, and those hopes are taken away.

I think there are a lot of people in both these categories in the USA, and I think Trump and Sanders, in their different ways, speak for them.

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Election 2016: Hillary Clinton’s head start

April 20, 2015

This chart, despite its headline, is good news for Hillary Clinton.

silver-feature-hrcpop-new

True, she is a controversial character.  About 48 percent of those polled look on her favorably and 45 percent unfavorably.   But she has a better favorability rating than any of the plausible Republican candidates, especially Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz and Chris Christie.

She also is a superstar.  Almost as many people recognize her name as recognize the name of the sitting President of the United States.  No Republican candidate is anywhere near as well known as she is.

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Nate Silver and the triumph of fact

November 13, 2012

One of the big winners in the 2012 national election is Nate Silver, a statistician-blogger who predicted President Obama’s election victory.  He called every state correctly and predicted the margin of the popular vote correctly, while better-known pundits, especially on the Republican side, were embarrassingly wrong.   He was subject to personal abuse as well as accusations of left-wing bias from readers who forgot that he predicted the Republican comeback in Congress correctly in 2010.

natesilverforecast2012He was lucky as well as right.  Based on the odds that Silver himself quoted, it wouldn’t have been surprising or discrediting if one of the swing states had gone otherwise than as he predicted.  But he certainly deserves his success and acclaim, for basing his conclusions on fact and logic rather than intuition and wishful thinking.

I’m not surprised that Silver got his start as an analyst of baseball statistics.  I think that on the average daily newspaper, sports writers and their readers have a more sophisticated understanding of statistics than political and business writers do.

Click on Nate Silver wiki for his biography, including his background as a baseball statistician and how during one period of his life he supported himself playing on-line poker.   If you read it, you’ll better appreciate the following comments by Bob Lefsetz on The Big Picture web log on the lessons of Nate Silver’s career success.

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