Is Nate Silver Underestimating Democrat Senate Chances in Georgia?


Let's put a spotlight on Georgia. The Georgia regular Senate election pits Incumbent Republican David Perdue vs Jon Ossoff.

Georgia Regular Senate Election Changing Odds

Georgia Regular Senate Election Odds

I believe those odds for Ossoff are way too low for many reasons, the first being the polls themselves.

Which Polls Georgia2

Second, momentum is clearly on the side of Ossoff.

Third, overall momentum is is on the side of Democrats. 

Biden is Slightly Favored to Win Georgia

If Biden wins Georgia as expected, the coattails will help Ossoff.

Perdue Withdraws From Debate

Note that after After a bitter debate in Georgia, Senator David Perdue cancels third face off with Jon Ossoff.

Ossoff Calls Perdue a Crook

"Perhaps Senator Perdue would have been able to the Covid-19 pandemic if  you hadn't been fending off multiple investigations for insider trading. It's not just that you are a crook Senator,  you are attacking the health of the people that you represent. You did say Covid-19 was no deadlier than the flu. You did say there would be no significant uptick in cases. all the while you were looking at your own assets."

I do not know enough about the charges. 

But I do know a good debate argument when I hear one and see one. And that was a grand slam. 

Coupled with Biden's momentum, I am willing to go out on a limb and say 60-40 Ossoff.

Georgia Special Election

I started writing this post a couple days ago but never finished it. It's better off this way because I was then unaware of the explosive debate above.

At that time Nate Silver had the special election odds as Republican (either Collins or Loeffler) as a 56-44 odds-on winner ober Democrat Warnock. 

Now I see Silver favors Warnock 64-36. I think that is about right, but perhaps a tad high.

I last discussed this on October 15 when Silver had the Republican as a 72-28 favorite.

Senate Surprises Flashback

On September 27, I wrote Senate Surprises: What to Look Out For in the Election

538 expects Georgia to vote for Trump by a 50.7 to 48.5 margin.  That puts Georgia in play for Biden. It also puts Warnock in play in the January 5 election. 

Silver's 17% estimate is thus way too low. The special election will also be influenced by turnout in January adding more uncertainty. 

I give Warnock a 40% chance, more than double Silver's estimate.

I rated Warnock over double Silver but was still too low. 

Fearless Forecast

My Fearless Election Forecast October 13

In my Fearless Forecast on October 13, I saw it this way. 

I expect all three [Georgia, Iowa, Ohio] to break for Biden unless he makes a major gaffe in the next debate, catches Covid, or some other unexpected event happens. 

On October 21, in Spotlight Iowa: Monmouth University Has Biden 4 Points Ahead.

I expected the polls to change for Biden, and Iowa just did.

Silver waits for the polls, I will take a reasonable shot when I see one.  

I expected the Monmouth poll and there it is.

Random Noise

Silver just flipped again on Iowa, and has been going back and forth for a week. Iowa is again in Trump's column.

I solidly disagree and may revisit Iowa soon. But now Silver has Ohio in the Biden camp.

When you change your mind every day, or even sometimes twice a day you are changing your mind on noise. 

That's what we have: noise. 

Models Can't Think!

Models cannot and do not do what I just did above. That is take a look at a debate in which Perdue was clearly slaughtered, then make a judgement call on it.

Nor do they properly look at momentum. 

There are huge error possibilities in tossing aside polls or predicting them. 

But there are also errors being a slave to them. 

I am very happy for Silver's forecasts and I find them helpful for my own thinking.

But as I explained to a couple of friends recently, I add no value if all I do is parrot his calls.


Comments (61)
No. 1-14

Posted at 8:34am on Friday


This is me posting another comment at 8:37am.


I like your reasoning on this one. I think you're right.

I looked at Texas again last night...and I still think Trump and Cornyn both win here, unless the usual religious bloc vote turns on Trump in a big way. I can't call that...but I don't really expect it because Trump people seem to be loyal in the face of just about anything.


it all hinges on a biden win for presidency. most people simply vote down ballot. very few will split the ticket.


The Senate is broken. Years ago the rationale for two votes per state was to prevent the majority from imposing its will on the minority. Today its the reverse.


100's of polling places closed in Iowa, oddly enough affecting the more densely populated ares (30% of voters affected).


....On January 24, 2020, the Senate Committees on Health and Foreign Relations held a closed meeting with only Senators present to brief them about the COVID-19 outbreak and how it would affect the United States.[2][3]

Following the meeting Senator Kelly Loeffler and her husband Jeffrey Sprecher, the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, made twenty-seven transactions to sell stocks worth between $1,275,000 and $3,100,000 and two transactions to buy stock in Citrix Systems which saw an increase following the stock market crash.[2]

Senator David Perdue made a series of 112 transactions with stocks sold for around $825,000 and bought stocks worth $1.8 million. Perdue started buying around $185,000 in stock in DuPont, a company that makes personal protective equipment, on the same day as the Senate briefing on March 2.[4][5]


It has taken me a little longer than usual to see the amount of garbage in this polling. I was firmly in the Biden will win camp. I now see 60-40 Trump. The black vote alone will win the election from Trump.

Trump wins and senate stays Red.

Dodge Demon
Dodge Demon

Mish, have a good trip on your visit to Iowa. Good driving weather this weekend and still some fall color to enjoy.

Rocky Raccoon
Rocky Raccoon

We know Texas's day was coming for a long time. Is there a seismic shift that is further breaking up the GOP stronghold in the south with Virginia already long gone...

Can the GOP win national elections if the south is divided?


Brass Tacks: Most people are pretty ignorant when it comes to sophisticated topics, but they are not that dumb, especially with the two Georgia senators who are blatantly traded stocks based on inside information after receiving the COVID briefings, blind trusts, financial advisors, blah, blah. The transactions don't lie , those two are on their way out, greed got the best of them, enjoy the money guy/girl.

Mr. Purple
Mr. Purple

A prediction is simply an algorithm based on inclusion of certain variables, whether by computer or human brain.

Time will tell whose algorithm was more accurate -- Nate Silver's or Mish's.


Hi Mish -

Ohio is firmly in Trump's column. From Columbus north (including Cleveland) Trumps signs out number Bidens 15 - 1. There are even three times as many personally purchased Trump Flags as there are Biden Signs.

Michigan is no different. There is a joke going around Michigan that if the election were held today based on yard signs alone that "Trump" would be first, "Firewood for Sale" would be second and "Biden" 3rd.

Gonna be a lot of crying and nashing of teeth next Week!


From USA Today: "Perdue is among a group of senators who came under fire after records found that they engaged in stock trading after a Jan. 24 briefing on the coronavirus pandemic. Almost 100 trades selling around $825,000 in stocks and buying $1.8 million more were made on Perdue's behalf." This while he's trying to kill the Affordable Care Act.

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