Why Nate Silver Supports Election Recount Even Though It’s ‘Unlikely’ To Change Anything
Monday, 28 November 2016
The election recount, which was initiated by Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein and set to being on Friday in Wisconsin, is unlikely to overturn the election results, according to statistics guru Nate Silver.
In a post published on his site FiveThirtyEight on Monday, Silver said he was “skeptical of claims of irregularities in the presidential election,” pointing to the fact that “there are no obvious statistical anomalies in the results in swing states based on the type of voting technology that each county employed.”
“What we’re talking about is more like an audit or an investigation,” Silver wrote. “An investigation that would look for signs of deliberate and widespread fraud, such as voting machines having been hacked, whole batches of ballots intentionally having been disregarded, illegal coordination between elections officials and the campaigns, and so on.”
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Silver goes on to say that “many individuals and organizations, including the campaigns’ own election monitors, lawyers and statisticians have all looked into it and found nothing.
The Clinton campaign, which agreed to take part in the recount, itself admitted it did not uncover “any actionable evidence of hacking or outside attempts to alter the voting technology.”
Furthermore, Silver argues, “It’s awfully hard to rig an election because of the degree of coordination required across dozens of localities in dozens of states.”
Lastly, Silver says, while polls underestimated Trump’s support among white voters, they were “fairly accurate otherwise,” especially when looking at Trump’s over-performance, which, according to Silver “occurred not only in swing states but also in states that he won easily, such as North Dakota.”
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But while Silver admits he doesn’t believe the recount (or audit) will result in any significant changes, he’s not against it.
“I’m in the information business,” Silver said. “An audit very probably won’t detect a conspiracy, but it will reveal information about our voting systems. FiveThirtyEight and most other American news organizations are founded on the premise that more information is better, even if it risks being misinterpreted.”
According to Silver the public will have to get used to a new reality where “nuggets of insight come buried in mounds of misinformation.”
“An audit is as good a place as any to start,” Silver concludes.
Silver, a former New York Times prognosticator, became a household name after he called all 50 states correctly during the 2012 presidential election. He was able to leverage his fame as the nation’s predictor-in-chief into a new role at ESPN, where he founded the site FiveThirtyEight.But his reputation took a hit after his site predicted that Trump had a 1-in-3 chance of defeating Hillary Clinton the Monday before the election.
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