Taking the pulse of Nate Silver's numbers
And think "Moneyball" - the book and film about how a geek used numbers to outdo the Oakland A's scouts, using their intuition to find undervalued baseball players who could win. In other words, the stat heads versus the pundits again.
Nate Silver started out as a baseball statistician before moving on to politics. His new book, "The Signal and the Noise," describes his theories.
In the 2008 election, Silver called 49 out of 50 states right.
Teichner asked Sarah Dutton, director of surveys for CBS News, to describe the difference between the kind of polling that CBS does and the sort of process that Nate Silver goes through.
"Well, I think those are very different animals," Dutton said.
The polls CBS News conducts along with its polling partner, The New York Times, are among those fed into Nate Silver's model.
"What we do is more of a snapshot in time than a prediction of an election outcome," Dutton said. "And so it's a very different kind of thing. We ask people, if the election were being held today, which candidate would you vote for? But really, most of our polls are about things that are not horse race-related but maybe give you really some insight into sort of the mind of the electorate."
Here are CBS' most recent poll results: "A very close race," Dutton said. "Forty-eight percent for President Obama, 47 percent for Mitt Romney - just a one-point lead for the president. And that is within the poll's margin of error."
Meaning, President Obama and Gov. Romney essentially neck-and-and at the end of that race.
What Nate Silver does is use his model to say President Obama is 70 to 80 percent more likely than Mitt Romney to cross the finish line first . . . and that's what makes him controversial.
"Nate has gotten very good reviews from people who have studied his methodology, but just like a clock, even the most inaccurate pollster gets it right from election to election," said GOP strategist Frank Luntz, a CBS News consultant. "And just like a clock, even the most accurate people will get it wrong from time to time."
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