Friday, May 15, 2015

Leave it to an Irishman like Pierce to throw in a puck goat

Charles Pierce continues to track the movements of Politico's Dylan Byers who continues not to get it.

Distressed at being outmaneuvered in this way, I wandered on over to the joint hosted by Dylan Byers, Tiger Beat On The Potomac's media "reporter." There, I found him where I'd left him back in 2012, lashed to the side of the white whale, andbeckoning for the Pequod's remaining whaleboats to continue the pursuit.
"[T]here are lots of reasons to worry about the state of the polling industry," Silver concluded, citing a range of factors. "There may be more difficult times ahead for the polling industry." This is quite a notable statement. The former New York Times statistician gained national fame for correctly anticipating the outcome of the 2008, 2010 and 2012 U.S. elections. He did this largely by understanding how to read the polls, and by knowing which polls were worth reading. (Never mind that he wasn't the only one. In fact, in 2012, the Daily Kos blogger Markos Moulitsas was more accurate than Silver in predicting the outcome of the 2012 electoral college. Needless to say, Moulitsas was not offered a high-paying job at ESPN.) If Silver is declaring that the world has a polling problem, and that there may be more difficult times ahead for the polling industry, what is Silver's added value in an election cycle? His ability to forecast elections is largely dependent on the accuracy of polling. Without that, what is his raison d'etre -- other than to point out how bad polling caused him to make inaccurate forecasts?
Oooooh, Nate. Burn'ch-ya! Can ya feeeeeel it?
Recall that Silver spent the end of the 2012 election cycle helping Byers look stupid in print. Byers, as is his custom, was the last one to get the joke. That Byers embarked on this doomed crusade as part of his other job as the sidewalk shill for MSNBC's ratings-challenged Morning Zoo Crew only made the whole thing more hilarious.
As Silver readily admits, the results in the UK elections on Thursday confounded his predictions -- andthose of everyone else, truth be told. His musings on the state of the polling industry are worth reading and considering as the election cycle over here grinds on. But there is one thing on which most polls agree -- having Dylan Byers question anyone else's professional raison d'etre is like subscribing to the classical music criticism of a puck goat.
Putting aside the childishness of his feud with Silver, this is yet another reminder that Byers still can't or won't face the central point.

All political journalists play the horse-race game. I personally don't see a great deal of value in this -- reporters telling voters who the reporters think the voters will vote for -- but Byers, the consummate establishment apologist, wouldn't go there at gunpoint. What Silver and company showed was that the kind of horse-race journalism Byers constantly defends is so devoid of value that labeling it 'news' borders on the fraudulent.

The Markos Moulitsas link is particularly rich. Here's what you see if you follow the link:

Math-based prognostication is superior to the old-school way of talking about gut feelings, or vibrations, or outright dishonest hackery.

Remember that Byers has emphatically thrown his support behind the old-school approach. Even those that Byers links to for support appear to think he's full of crap.

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