Monday, March 11, 2013

Intrade is down...

...for some reason. The Irish betting Web site says:

With sincere regret we must inform you that due to circumstances recently discovered we must immediately cease trading activity.

What the heck? Now we'll all have to go back to guessing, like Republicans. From a piece in the Atlantic (my emphasis):

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan both believed the public polls were wrong, and that they'd win on Election Day. Their wives did, too. "I don't think there was one person who saw this coming," a senior adviser told CBS News' Jan Crawford. An advisor said of Romney, "He was shellshocked." When Romney claimed on Election Day that he hadn't written a concession speech, it sounded like trash talk. Apparently it wasn't. How could they not have seen it coming?

"There's nothing worse than when you think you're going to win, and you don't," said another adviser. "It was like a sucker punch."

Or check out this from Slate:

Mitt Romney says he is a numbers guy, but in the end he got the numbers wrong. His campaign was adamant that public polls in the swing states were mistaken. They claimed the pollsters were over-estimating the number of Democrats who would turn out on Election Day. Romney’s campaign was certain that minorities would not show up for Obama in 2012 the way they did in 2008. “It just defied logic,” said a top aide of the idea that Obama could match, let alone exceed, his performance with minorities from the last election. When anyone raised the idea that public polls were showing a close race, the campaign’s pollster said the poll modeling was flawed and everyone moved on. Internally, the campaign’s own polling—tweaked to represent their view of the electorate, with fewer Democrats—showed a steady uptick for Romney since the first debate. Even on the morning of the election, Romney’s senior advisers weren’t close to hedging. They said he was going to win “decisively.” It seemed like spin, but the Boston Globe reports that a fireworks display was already ordered for the victory. Romney and Ryan thought they were going to win, say aides. “We were optimistic. More than just cautiously optimistic,” says one campaign staffer. When Romney lost, “it was like a death in the family.”

How did the Romney team get it so wrong? According to those involved, it was a mix of believing anecdotes about party enthusiasm and an underestimation of their opponents’ talents.

And then there's poor ol' Peggy Noonan:

We begin with the three words everyone writing about the election must say: Nobody knows anything. Everyone’s guessing. I spent Sunday morning in Washington with journalists and political hands, one of whom said she feels it’s Obama, the rest of whom said they don’t know. I think it’s Romney. I think he’s stealing in “like a thief with good tools,” in Walker Percy’s old words. While everyone is looking at the polls and the storm, Romney’s slipping into the presidency. He’s quietly rising, and he’s been rising for a while. 

That's it; that's Noonan's statistical sampling.

Who knows what to make of the weighting of the polls and the assumptions as to who will vote? Who knows the depth and breadth of each party’s turnout efforts?

Well, Nate Silver for one. (And there were plenty others. You just had to consult them.) This woman gets paid to write this stuff?

Is it possible this whole thing is playing out before our eyes and we’re not really noticing because we’re too busy looking at data on paper instead of what’s in front of us?

After reading this, I wanted to shout at Ms. Noonan: DON'T YOU READ NATE SILVER? DON'T YOU AT LEAST LOOK AT INTRADE?

But to be fair, Republicans aren't the only ones who don't trust polling. On the morning of the Academy Awards, Chris Matthews predicted Silver Linings Playbook would win Best Picture. To which I wanted to yell at the TV: But Argo has been the clear leader on Intrade for months! What's wrong with you?

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