Understanding the likelihood of an Obama victory

Andrew Gelman explains how to understand the probability of an Obama win.  This paragraph is the key:

What I’m saying is that I can simultaneously (a) accept that Obama has a 72 percent chance of winning and (b) say the election is too close to call. What if the weatherman told you there was a 30 percent chance of rain — would you be shocked if it rained that day? No. To put it another way, suppose Mitt Romney pulls out 51 percent of the popular vote and wins the election. That doesn’t mean that Nate Silver skews the polls (as is suggested by this repulsive article at Examiner.com, which, among other things, criticizes Silver for being thin and having a soft voice). Romney winning the election with 51 percent of the vote is well within the margin of error, as Silver clearly indicates. That’s what too close to call is all about.

As for me, I’ve been telling everybody that I predict that Obama will win, but would not at all be surprised if Romney wins (very disappointed, yes; surprised no).

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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