Based on the mountains of polling data, it’s probably safe to assume that Governor Romney’s path to victory is looking a bit rough. Just look at Nate Silver’s influential blog, which puts President Obama’s chances of winning at 85.7% and predicts that he will collect 320 electoral votes and nearly 52% of the popular vote.
Today, Silver came on the show to discuss why some predictions are right on target, while others completely miss the mark. In his new book, ”The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail–But Some Don’t,” Silver says an accurate political prediction may come down to personality. He illustrates this point by referencing Isaiah Berlin’s famous 1953 essay, “The Hedgehog and The Fox.” Hedgehogs are big personalities who see the world through the prism of big ideas. Foxes, on the other hand, take a more nuanced and complicated view of the world. In politics, hedgehogs may be better at giving good soundbites. But foxes are the ones to go to when you’re looking for an accurate forecast.
You can get lost in the narrative. Politics may be especially susceptible to poor predictions precisely because of its human elements: a good election engages our dramatic sensibilities. This does not mean that you must feel totally dispassionate about a political event in order to make a good prediction about it. But it does mean that a fox’s aloof attitude can pay dividends.