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They Fought the Math, and the Math Won

I wrote this about Nate Silver four years ago, shortly after Barack Obama was elected president for the first time. Four years have dimmed a lot of the optimism and starry-eyed hope on display within it, as I think it has for many people. Still, I stand by every word of that post, especially where it pertains to Silver.

Looking back on it, what I find most amazing is how you could apply nearly everything I said about him in 2008 to this year’s election. Four years ago, Silver made electoral predictions that were mocked and downplayed by professional pundits who didn’t like the outcome they pointed to. This year, with Silver’s profile much higher, the attacks were more pronounced, but the results were the same: When you fight math, you lose.

I supported Obama with reservations. I wish he’d close Gitmo, like he promised. I wish he’d stop sending drones out to kill people–both for basic human reasons and because it creates more terrorists than it eliminates. I wish he’d do more to end our reliance on fossil fuels, and to stop a pointless and destructive “war against drugs.”

However, none of these issues would have been improved by Obama’s only viable alternative. If anything, they would have worsened, and nearly all of the tangible good Obama has done (marriage rights, affordable health care) would have been reversed. For me, it came down to this: The party that opposed Obama spent much of the campaign season trying to rationalize rape, and their presidential candidate did absolutely nothing to distance himself from fellow Republicans who did so. As the father of a daughter, as a husband, and as a human being, I do not want that party making laws, let alone appointing Supreme Court justices.

Another reason why I couldn’t bear the thought of Mitt Romney becoming president was Nate Silver, the man who spelled out Mitt Romney’s demise months in advance. Or rather, how Silver was treated by people who perceived him as The Enemy.

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