Sunday, July 21, 2013

Hi Ho, Nate Silver! Away!

This is really sad news:  Nate Silver is leaving us politicos.  He's going over to the sporticos.  His column will disappear from the New York Times soon, and the man himself will instead appear on ESPN.

There is a faint glimmer of hope that he will return to us when politics heats up again in 2014, but he won't come back in his recent form as a print columnist.  Instead he will be a consultant at ABC News.

The loss is triple-barreled.  We will lose the reliability of where and when to find him and his analysis.  As it has been up until now, we knew exactly where he was at all times:  the New York Times "Politics" section.  With this change, he's first going to be floating around as some sort of "color man" at some unspecified sporting events on ESPN.  And he sure won't be discussing politics!  Instead it will be stuff like how many runs batted in when there was a left-handed pitcher, it was just starting to rain, and a horse galloped onto the field.

When he returns to politics by being on ABC, we won't know where and when to find him.  If anyone thinks I'm going to watch ABC around the clock on the off-chance of spotting Nate Silver, they are crazy.  I'll only follow him on ABC if he has a regular, predictable spot.  That's just how it is, baby!

There's something even worse that results from his move to TV.  Mainly that it is indeed a a move to TV, i.e. he's abandoning print.  And there was never any content that more required print than does Nate's stuff.  Do he and ABC really believe people want to hear that the final nine-tenths of a percent of the fourth largest voting block in twenty-three states that actually voted in 1996 above 54% only does so in years when the overall percentage of registered voters exceeds the prior year's registration by at least 6.8%.  (I made that up, but  -  who knows  -  maybe it's true?)

In short, what is a treat to the analytical mind is a nightmare for the ear.  And without his wonderful down-in-the-weeds statistics, Nate Silver is just another pretty face.  Well, actually he's not that good-looking  (sorry, Nate) and he has all the presence on TV of a little kid who has just kicked his ball over the fence, i.e. he always looks like he'd rather be somewhere else.  That's' why he'll be on ABC and not MSNBC or just good old NBC.  He's not compelling enough for those last two and not quite weird enough for PBS or goofus enough for CNN. Thus poor old Nate has been relegated to the seat next to the door, i.e. ABC,  so he can disappear without a tear.  Because, let's face it, folks, nobody gets their in-depth political news from ABC.  Nobody.

Lawrence O'Donnell and I placed all our chips on Nate in 2012.  None of the other commentators did. (And, yes, I'm emboldened by your readership enough to count myself a "commentator".)   They all bought into the Gallup errors and into the GOP crap about "close race" and "surge" and even a silly last minute scenario of Romney winning Pennsylvania.  The GOP so hates Obama because of his being half black that they believed their own nonsense right down to election night when Karl Rove refused to accept Fox News' calling Ohio for Obama.  And, oh, how I still love to remember that moment,  confidently laughing at Rove because Nate Silver had told us Obama was going to win Pennsylvania.

So what do we do now?  How do we get along without Nate?  The answer will be posted here next time.  Just be assured that all is not lost.   Further, there will be yet another post about Nate beyond that one, a post that asks the ever-pressing question, "Who was that masked man?"



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