Hand in Glove

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.

  1. Pseudodionysius

    I can confirm that no one from The Actor’s Studio has phoned and offered me an interview spot.

  2. Mel Foil

    And there’s this:


    It was a MRC prank, but very few realized that there was something inherently wrong with the whole concept.

  3. ctruppi

    Don’t care would old Nate says, I still see a landslide in Nov.

  4. DocJay

    This election will be a determining factor as to whether these journOlists will be nearly all discredited or be placed in such high esteem as to write our history books like Stalinesque sycophants.  

    Obama is their man and every little bit of negativity regarding him is either attacked outright, ignored, or summarily dismissed.  Another four years of them may very will block all my arteries.

  5. Paul A. Rahe
    Scarlet Pimpernel: Are you saying that the Obama campaign is mining Silver? · 44 minutes ago

    Edited 42 minutes ago

    Oh, far bet it for me . . .

  6. DocJay
    Scarlet Pimpernel: Are you saying that the Obama campaign is mining Silver? · 47 minutes ago

    Edited 46 minutes ago

    We call it plata tudes.  

  7. Smokedaddy

    Interesting. I’ve been a somewhat skeptical fan of Silver’s, seeing him as one the few honest left of center bloggers and a veritable fount of data and analysus when it comes to polling. But he’s been stretching things of late for Obama, no doubt. Even more troubling to me is the Justice dept lawsuit against Gallup coinciding with David Axelrod’s little campaign of attempted intimidation against the pollster. http://dailycaller.com/2012/09/06/justice-dept-gallup-lawsuit-came-after-axelrod-criticized-pollsters/

    One could say that well, what does it really matter, these are only polls after all. But these polls, to the extent they are seen as honest, can lend legitimacy to what may in actuality be a lagging campaign. Not to mention that if the Dems were to steal this or any election, it would raise a lot fewer questions if the polls were to show them tied or even ahead when in fact they are not. The Axelrod emails I think cement his standing as the sleaziest of a sleazy lot in modern times.

  8. Crow

    As Prof. Rahe pointed out on another thread today about the new Obama voting base, journalists today overwhelming belong to the class most likely to vote for Obama, and they overwhelming live in the most epistemically closed communities in the country. Hardly surprising where their sympathies lie, or that they themselves do altogether too often.

  9. DocJay

    Smokedaddy, Axelrod may well be the dregs of the sleazeballs.  This DoJ has to go bye bye.

  10. Keith Preston

    What concerns me is the prospect for the possibility of public manipulation.  If polling data shows Obama ahead in certain states, it will depress opposition voting because those voters think the game is over in their state.

    I believe this is why we have seen such dishonest polling internals in the public polls to date.  I suspect some are trying to impact the RCP average since they got it so right last time.  The only thing that was keeping him ahead so long was the outliers who were way out there with their heavy D+ skewing of the mix.

    Professor?  What say you?

  11. Scarlet Pimpernel

    Are you saying that the Obama campaign is mining Silver?

  12. No Caesar
    ctruppi: Don’t care would old Nate says, I still see a landslide in Nov. · Sep 6 at 11:34am

    I care because a lot of “independent” sorta-rightish leaning professionals I know trust him as an honest Lefty.  They know he’s a liberal, but think that when he does the stats he’s honest.  I’ve looked at Nate’s math and conclude that he was honest in 2008 (because it was the outcome he wanted) and has steadily become more dishonest since.  At this point he’s better than the pack of the Democrat-Media-Complex, but not much. 

    I studied statistics and polling in business school.  Professionally, I have done a lot of consumer interest surveys.  I know that I can make any real-world polls say whatever I want and I can point to data in the poll to support my contention.  That is why most individual polls are useless, however, the relative trends on polls are useful.  It takes someone obsessed with accuracy, not with outcome to give you good conclusions from polls.