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September 17, 2016 | Investigating Nate Silver’s “Negative Time Preference” Forecasts for Trump

Mike 'Mish' Shedlock

Mike Shedlock / Mish is a registered investment advisor representative for SitkaPacific Capital Management. Sitka Pacific is an asset management firm whose goal is strong performance and low volatility, regardless of market direction.

Nate Silver’s Election Odds Model is totally screwed up.

Despite obvious momentum in favor of Trump, Silver projects Trump has a better chance of winning today than a month from now. This is of course ridiculous.

Let’s investigate three charts as of 2016-09-16 11:40 PM Central.

  • Silver’s Nowcast: Who would win the election if it were held today
  • Silver’s Polls-Only Forecast: What polls alone tell us about Nov. 8
  • Silver’s Polls-Plus: What polls, the economy and historical data tell us about Nov. 8

Nate Silver Nowcast Results


Nate Silver Polls Only Results


Nate Silver Polls Plus Results


Recap of Trump Odds

  • Nowcast: 42.4%
  • Polls Plus: 40.7%
  • Polls Only: 39.8%

Mathematical Idiocy

Despite the fact that momentum has clearly shifted in favor of Trump, Silver has Trump’s odds of winning today higher now than in the future.

This negative time preference is ridiculous.

Earlier this week, but I failed to capture it, Silver had the the Nowcast and Polls only forecasts 0.1 percentage points apart.

Are the odds that Hillary keels over, is indicted, or hospitalized by November 8 greater than 0.1%?

Any actuaries or doctors care to chime in?

Meaning of Time

Not only does Silver fail to understand time, he fails to understand momentum, and human psychology as well.

His previous 89.2% Hillary forecast on August 14 looks totally laughable. But it was nearly as laughable then, as now. And I said so at the time.

Given the human emotions in play, Hillary’s obvious (even back then) medical difficulties, the extreme dislike of both candidates etc, Silver never should have had an 89% confidence level on Hillary that far in advance.

Time and time again, Silver has proven he does not understand time or human psychology. He should have held off giving election odds until the final month.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

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September 17th, 2016

Posted In: Mish Talk

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