Nate Silver to Scarborough: Bet you $1,000 Romney loses

By David Ferguson
Thursday, November 1, 2012 11:26 EDT
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Nate Silver by Robert Stewart Flickr Commons
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New York Times statistician and Five Thirty Eight blogger Nate Silver has bet MSNBC pundit and host of “Morning Joe,” Joe Scarborough $1,000 that his statistical model holds true and that President Barack Obama wins re-election. According to Atlantic Monthly‘s Atlantic Wire blog, Silver posted the challenge to his Twitter account on Wednesday after Scarborough spent the morning broadcast attempting to savage Silver’s credibility.

“If you think it’s a toss-up, let’s bet. If Obama wins, you donate $1,000 to the American Red Cross. If Romney wins, I do. Deal?” Silver tweeted.

He was responding to remarks Scarborough made on Monday calling the race a dead heat and impugning Silver’s objectivity.

“Anybody that thinks that this race is anything but a toss-up right now is such an ideologue,” Scarborough said, “They should be kept away from typewriters, computers, laptops, and microphones for the next ten days, because they’re jokes.”

The former Republican congressman was joining in on a full court press in recent weeks by the right to discredit Silver and paint him as a fraud. The first, and arguably most absurd, came from UnskewedPolls.com’s Dean Chambers, a new darling of the Republican feedback loop set, who attacked not just Silver’s math, but his very physicality.

“Nate Silver is a man of very small stature, a thin and effeminate man with a soft-sounding voice that sounds almost exactly like the ‘Mr. New Castrati’ voice used by Rush Limbaugh on his program,” Chambers wrote, in remarks that interestingly resemble Richard Wagner’s anti-Semitic criticisms of Felix Mendelssohn, wherein he deemed Mendelssohn’s music to be “effeminate” and “vague,” as well as “flabby and colorless” and, having been produced by a Jew, “outside the pale of German art-life.”

The Chambers hit piece was followed by a Politico article that posed the question, “Nate Silver: One term celebrity?” and conjectured that the pollster has staked his reputation on an election whose outcome is far less likely than his models allow to swing toward the president.

Silver’s offense against the right is his analytical model’s dogged refusal to submit to the Romney campaign’s spin on poll results. Since spring of this year, Obama has held on to a small but persistent lead in Silver’s reckoning of poll data.

Currently Five Thirty Eight is stating that the president’s odds of winning the election are 79 percent while Romney’s are at 21 percent. Silver correctly predicted the outcome of the 2008 election months ahead of time and was correct in his electoral college predictions for 49 of the 50 states.

[Image via Flickr Commons, photo by Randy Stewart, blog.stewtopia.com]

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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