It’s not April 1 but Nov. 6 — and that means the folks at FiveThirtyEight aren’t joking.
And their model just showed a huge shift in the Republicans’ chances of holding on to the House of Representatives.
FiveThirtyEight, for the unacquainted, is a site beloved by stats geeks, particularly of the political sort. On election night, it’s best known for its live predictions as to what party will maintain control of certain seats or legislative bodies.
Like most predictions, FiveThirtyEight began the night saying the Republicans had very little chance of keeping the lower chamber of Congress. In fact, they had the GOP’s chances pegged at a 1-in-8 chance — 12.5 percent, for those of you with a Common Core education.
As the evening progressed, however, it changed somewhat dramatically:
The 538 forecast has dropped to just a 39.3% chance that the Democrats take the House tonight.
That is something that was unthinkable just 24 hours ago for most…
— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) November 7, 2018
As I was writing this, the model seems to have been tamped down a bit. However, it’s still a lot better than 1-in-8:
Several people from FiveThirtyEight seemed to think their model was being a bit sanguine about the Republicans’ chances.
“You may have noticed that our real-time forecast has moved toward Republicans in the House,” FiveThirtyEight’s Nathaniel Rakich noted.
“It’s being too aggressive, in my opinion. The model sees that a bunch of ‘likely Republican’ districts (particularly in Florida) are now 100 percent likely to go red. But there hasn’t been the chance for Democrats to clinch many equivalent likely Democratic districts.”
FiveThirtyEight impresario Nate Silver had similar thoughts on Twitter:
Well, I’m trying to do 6 things at once — we think our live election day forecast is definitely being too aggressive and are going to put it on a more conservative setting where it waits more for projections/calls instead of making inferences from partial vote counts.
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) November 7, 2018
Nevertheless, this is his website’s forecast.
Whether or not this means anything remains to be seen. Most news outlets still seem to have the Democrats having a high probability of taking the House as of this hour.
However, FiveThirtyEight has always been beloved as being ahead of the curve, so to speak, in making predictions. While Silver and Rakich may feel that their model is being too aggressive, it’s still a very interesting shift — and one that could be an interesting augury as the night proceeds.
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