Hans Noel

Recent Articles

I have a theory

I have a theory about the nerd fight over political science forecasting models . So far, the debate has touched on a number of very interesting issues , but the thrust is whether political scientists are “too confident” in the models that predict the outcomes of elections on the basis of the economy, or whether there is room for the campaign to “matter.” The conclusion, which most reasonable people seem to agree on, is that of course there is room for the campaign to matter, but the fight continues over what that means about the importance of the economy. But I think the main source of conflict is a different perspective on why one might run these models in the first place. (And some political scientists may share that perspective.) Political scientists are not in the business of predicting the future. (I never thought journalists were, either.) Forecasting is good because it keeps us honest. Predicting outside the sample ensures you are not inventing an ad hoc explanation. But models...

One man’s outlier is another man’s high-leverage case

Nate Silver, over at fivethirtyeight , objects to the conventional wisdom that Herman Cain, despite his place in the polls, has little chance of becoming the Republican presidential nominee. That wisdom, consistent in this case with our book, The Party Decides , is that that Cain may have some appeal with some elements of the party, but he is not broadly appealing among political leaders, and so the party leaders will find a way to nominate someone else. Cain is an outlier, in that his poll performance is high, but his ranking on various non-poll measures, such as support from political insiders, is low. Silver presents a great graph showing the relationship, using a new measure. Since these various measures of candidate strength are highly correlated, Cain is unusual. If you wanted to predict his poll position from his non-poll strength, you’d miss. (Although notice that this poll of political insiders shows more favorable attitudes toward Cain than a lot of other conventional wisdom...