Some time back, when the folks who subscribed to Journolist finally got outed, we learned that, in 2008, there was not only an official campaign on behalf of Barack Obama. There was also, as one Journolist member put it, a closely coordinated “unofficial campaign,” operating within the press to manipulate news coverage on his behalf.
What we did not learn at that time, however, was that one of the less visible participants in the larger cooperative endeavor linking the commentariat with the Obama campaign was Nate Silver, who now plays psephologist for Pravda-on-the-Hudson. In 2008, Silver blogged on the DailyKos website under the name poblano, where he drew a considerable following. Among his admirers, we now learn, were the folks running Barack Obama’s Presidential campaign, and at a certain point Silver and the campaign began working hand in glove:
Sasha Issenberg’s new book on the science of politics, The Victory Lab reports that Silver’s data-centric approach and skepticism of other media’s — as the Obama campaign saw it — unsophisticated take on state polls won him an “obsessive following” in Obama’s Chicago headquarters.
Obama’s polling analysts, Issenberg writes, wanted to test their internal polls against Silver’s model. And so — in an unusual step for the closely-held campaign, and for the analyst, who was then running his own website, FiveThirtyEight.com — the Obama campaign offered Silver access to thousands of its own internal polls, on the condition Silver sign a confidentiality agreement, which he did. . . .
“We wanted a little external validation that what we were seeing is what was actually going on,” Michael Simon, a former Obama aide, told Issenberg.
It makes one wonder whether Silver and the Obama campaign are “assisting” one another this time around. I am sure that Pravda-on-the-Hudson would not object. That rag is the central organ within this year’s unofficial campaign.