Apologies by journalists

It’s been interesting to see the shift in responses from journalists as Donald ‘Drumpf’ has a meteoric rise through the Republican nomination process. In particular, two people/sources I read reasonably frequently have handled it quite differently.

James Fallows has explicitly recognised that he was wrong in saying Drumpf would never go anywhere.

On the other hand, Nate Silver wrote a piece in late January that talked about Drumpf’s chances, and how they’d changed. The closest thing to a recognition they’d been wrong was buried in a footnote:

Although, the record will show that we weren’t especially skeptical about Trump getting to this point, with a chance to win the Iowa caucuses. It was what came after Iowa that we thought would be the hard part, making Trump unlikely to win the GOP nomination. For a variety of reasons, however, but mostly because of how Republican “party elites” are behaving, Trump’s post-Iowa path doesn’t look as foreboding now. We think he has a real shot.

It’s arguable, I suppose, that Silver is making forecasts on a daily basis, that are carefully calibrated on a wide range of data. So that rather than making an explicit, one-off revision, there’s been a series of gradual shifts tracking the actual outcome, and potentially even the underlying shifts in probability.

Still, given how big a shift there’s been in Drumpf’s outcomes, I think it wouldn’t have hurt to recognise that things have turned out quite differently than many people expected they might last year.

I like 538, and I like Nate Silver. I think he’s a great source for really insightful coverage and analysis of American politics. But I’ve been keeping an eye out for a ‘we were wrong’ piece, and I haven’t seen it yet.

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