Clinton bested Trump in the first presidential debate according to a variety of metrics, and the odds are that she’ll gain in head-to-head polls over Trump in the coming days…. As a warning, you should give the debate five to seven days to be fully reflected in FiveThirtyEight’s forecasts.
I feel rather sorry for Silver. I have seen his statistical gloominess of late take some hits from liberal writers, which is unfair. Silver practices "data journalism" — that is, by definition, journalism constrained by the data. However it's not the hits that he's taken — however unfair they might be — that causes me to feel sorry for him; it is, rather, the form of journalism he practices. From it are sucked intuition and political instincts and imminent permutations that are either unquantifiable or yet too immature to be quantified. And what is political journalism absent intuition, instinct, informed anticipation and historical light thrown on all of it?
A few weeks ago I cited the late, great, cultural critic Dwight Macdonald, and today I'll cite him again, this time from his 1957 essay, "The Triumph of the Fact." Writing about Time as a stand-in for all fact-obsessed journalism, Macdonald referenced the magazine's "huge and expensive research department [that] produces a weekly warehouseful of certified, pasteurized, 100 per cent double-checked Facts, and everything is accurate about any given article except its main points." That is often what strikes me about what Silver is self-required to write: dead and dry facts, bled entirely of their larger circumstances and instinctual anticipations. Were I deprived of the latter, I'd reject political writing. To me it's an art, not a science.