As I see the race right now, we have a big mystery. James Comey's decision to announce... something... created so much movement that it isn't clear how much we should weigh the polls before the Comey announcement. What happens on Tuesday? I don't know.
A couple of weeks ago, though, I was bashing Nate Silver for giving Trump too much of a chance. So, what's the deal? The deal is that I am entirely consistent, and the answer comes from Part V in the "Nate Silver is full of shit" series.
Back in that post, Clinton was sitting on a 5.5 point lead nationwide, and I chastised Silver for the pointlessness of combinatorical games with the electoral college when the national polls were that far apart. In Part V specifically, though, I said that what needed to happen for Clinton to lose would be for either the polls to be systematically wrong in a way that Silver's methods had a hard time capturing, or for there to be an intervening event, which Silver's method couldn't predict.
That's kind of what happened, isn't it? I even gave you a book recommendation in that post. So, let's talk more about that book. Tetlock's book, Expert Political Judgment, poses an uncomfortable challenge to those of us in predictive endeavors. Perhaps history hinges so often on "black swan" type events that there is no point in even trying to make predictions. A black swan event is a rare and unforeseeable event that changes everything. Comey's announcement certainly looks to me like a black swan event. It was Anthony Weiner's computer! Of course, many people are actually pretty good at predictions, and even if nobody could have foreseen the Comey announcement, Tetlock's analysis is all about the differences between those who do better than others. One of my observations in Part V of the series was that Tetlock points out the weakness of reductive approaches to prediction.
Nevertheless, we can't forget about those black swans. That was my point in Part V of the "Nate Silver is full of shit" series. Silver's math wasn't about forecasting black swans. Honk, honk, my flying friends.