Over at the 538 blog wunderkind Nate Silver is reassessing his election forecasts. Silver did not get it as wrong as many other statisticians, but still his 30% number for Trump’s chances was off the mark. His and many other pollsters’ predictions of the aggregate vote were close to correct. Since the election was not decided on the basis of raw popular vote, the numbers were irrelevant.
Now, Silver is going to publish a series of articles explaining what went wrong… not just for him, but also for other political commentators. The Trump/Clinton election stands out as a shining instance of confirmation bias. See my post two days ago..
In this paragraph he offers a fine synopsis, or, if you prefer, a diagnosis of media confirmation bias:
Why, then, had so many people who covered the campaign been so confident of Clinton’s chances? This is the question I’ve spent the past two to three months thinking about. It turns out to have some complicated answers, which is why it’s taken some time to put this article together (and this is actually the introduction to a long series of articles on this question that we’ll publish over the next few weeks). But the answers are potentially a lot more instructive for how to cover Trump’s White House and future elections than the ones you’d get by simply blaming the polls for the failure to foresee the outcome. They also suggest there are real shortcomings in how American politics are covered, including pervasive groupthink among media elites, an unhealthy obsession with the insider’s view of politics, a lack of analytical rigor, a failure to appreciate uncertainty, a sluggishness to self-correct when new evidence contradicts pre-existing beliefs, and a narrow viewpoint that lacks perspective from the longer arc of American history.