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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  February 17, 2016 2:00am-4:01am EST

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>> what recourse do you have it leader mcconnell blocks a vote on your supreme court nominee? do you think that if you choose someone moderate enough, that republicans will change course and schedule a vote? as you consider that choice and who to nominee, what qualities are important to you and is diversity among them? thank you. president obama: first of all, i want to reiterate my heartfelt condolences to the scalia family. obviously, justice scalia and i had different political orientations, and probably would have disagreed on the outcome of certain cases, but there is no doubt that he was a giant on the supreme court. he helped to shape the legal landscape. he was, by all accounts, a good friends, and loved his family deeply. it's important, before we rush into the politics of this, to take stock of someone who made enormous contributions to the
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united states, and we are grateful not only for his service, but for his family service. about what is supposed to happen now. when there is a vacancy on the supreme court, the president of the united states nominates someone. the senate is to consider that nomination. either they disapprove of that nominee or that nominee is validated to the supreme court. historically, this has not been viewed as a question. there's no unwritten law that says it can only be done on off years. that is not in the constitutional text.
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i'm amused when i hear people who claim to be strict interpreters of the constitution suddenly reading into it a whole series of provisions that are not there. there's more than enough time for the senate to consider, in a thoughtful way, the record of a nominee that i present, and to make a decision. with respect to our process, we will do the same thing we did with respect to justice kagan's nomination and justice sotomayor 's nomination. we will find someone who was an outstanding legal mind, who cares deeply about our democracy and rule of law. there will not be any particular position or particular issue that determines whether or not i nominate them, but i am going to present somebody who indisputably is qualified for the seat and any fair-minded
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person, even somebody who disagrees with my politics, would say would serve with honor and integrity on the court. part of the problem that we have here is we have almost gotten accustomed to how obstructionist the senate has become when it comes to nominations. i've got 14 nominations that has been pending that were unanimously approved by the judiciary committee. republicans and democrats on the judiciary committee all agree that they were well qualified for the position. and yet we can't get a vote on those individuals. so in some way, this argument is just an extension of what we have seen in the senate generally, and not just on judicial nominees. the basic function of government
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requires that the president of the united states, in his or her duties, has a team of people, cabinet secretaries, assistant secretaries, that can carry out the basic functions of government. it requires that we appoint judges so they can carry out their functions in the separate branch of government. the fact that we have almost grown accustomed to a situation that is almost unprecedented, where every nomination is contested, everything is blocked, regardless of how qualified the person is, even when there is no ideological objection to them, certainly where there are no disqualifying
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actions by the nominee. the fact that it is that hard, that we are even discussing this, is, i think, a measure of how unfortunately the rancor in washington has prevented us from getting work done. this would be a good moment for us to rise above that. i understand the stakes. i understand the pressure that republican senators are undoubtedly under. the fact of the matter is the , issue here is that the court is now divided on many issues. this will be a deciding vote, and there are a lot of republican senators who will be under a lot of pressure from various special interests and constituencies and many voters to not let any nominee go
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through, no matter who i nominate. but that is not how the system is supposed to work. it is not how our democracy is supposed to work. i intend to nominate in due time a very well-qualified candidate. if we are following basic precedent, then that nominee will be presented before the committees. the vote will be taken. ultimately they will be , confirmed. justice kennedy, when he was nominated by ronald reagan, in ronald reagan's last year in office, a vote was taken, and there were a whole lot of democrats who i'm sure did not agree with justice kennedy on his position in a variety of issues. but they did the right thing. they confirmed him. and if they voted against him, they certainly didn't mount a
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filibuster to block a vote from even coming up. this is the supreme court, the highest court in the land. it's the one court where we would expect elected officials to rise above day-to-day politics. this will be the opportunity for senators to do their job. your job doesn't stop until you are voted out, or until your term expires. i intend to do my job between now and january 20, 2017. i expect them to do their job, as well. all right. let's see who we got. jeff mason? >> thank you, mr. president. following up on that, should we interpret your comments just now that you are likely to choose a moderate nominee? president obama: no. >> [laughter]
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>> ok. president obama: i don't know where you found that. you shouldn't assume anything other than that they will be well-qualified. >> following up? would you consider a recess appointment if you're nominee is not granted a hearing? president obama: i think that we have more than enough time to go through regular order, regular processes. i intend to nominate somebody, to present them to the american people, to present them to the senate. i expect them to hold hearings. i expect there to be a vote. >> no recess? and lastly how do you respond to , republican criticism that your position is undercut by the fact that you and other members of your administration who were in the senate at the time, try to filibuster judge alito in 2006? president obama: i think what is fair
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to say is that how judicial nominations have evolved over time is not historically the fault of any single party. this has become one more extension of politics. and there are times where folks are in the senate and thinking -- will this causing -- will this cause me problems in the primary? will this cause me problems with supporters of mine? it takes strategic decisions, i understand that. but what is also true is justice alito is on the bench right now. i think that historically, if , you look at it, regardless of what votes particular senators have taken, there has been a basic consensus and understanding that supreme court's different.
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-- differ. each caucus may decide who is going to vote, where, and what, but basically, you let the vote come up and you make sure that a well-qualified candidate is able to join the bench, even if you don't particularly agree with them. my expectation is that the same should happen here. now, this will be a test, one more test of whether or not norms rules, basic fairplay can function at all in washington these days. but i do want to point out, this is not just the supreme court. we have consistently seen a breakdown in the basic functions of government because the senate will not confirm well-qualified nominees, even when they are voted out of committee, which
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means that they are voted by both parties without objection. we still have problems. because there's a certain , mindset that says we're just going to grind the system down. if we don't like the president, then we're just not going to let him make any appointments. we're going to make it tougher for the administration to do their basic job. we're going to make sure that ambassadors aren't seated, even though these are critical countries that may have an effect on international relations. we will make sure that judges aren't confirmed, despite the fact that justice roberts himself pointed out there's emergencies and courts around the country because there are , not enough judges and too many cases and the system is breaking down. this has become a habit.
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it gets worse and worse each year. it's not something that i have spent a huge amount of time talking about, because frankly the american people on average are more interested in gas prices and wages and issues that touch on their day-to-day lives in more direct ways, so it doesn't get a lot of political attention. but this is the supreme court. it's going to get some attention. we have to ask ourselves a fundamental question -- are we able to still make this democracy work the way it is , supposed to, the way our founders envisioned it? i would challenge anyone who purports to be adhering to the original intent of the founders, anybody who believes in the constitution, coming up with a plausible rationale as to why
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they would not even have a hearing for a nominee made in accordance with the constitution by the president of the united states. with a year left in office. pretty hard to find that in the constitution. you gotten at least, you have gotten four now jeff. , >> thank you, mr. president. two different topics, first on syria. last year, when president putin was about to enter into syria, you said he was doing so for a position of weakness, and that he would only get himself involved in a quagmire. now with that about to follow, -- with aleppo about to fall it , seems like president putin is getting one of his goals, to bolster assad and take out the rebels which the u.s. is
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,backing. how do you respond to critics who say you have been up talked by putin, and what is your plan if it does fall? do you plan to step of military action to help the rebels in syria, who you have said are key to taking on isis? secondly, i wanted to ask you about 2016 -- president obama: this is a lot of questions. you asked me a big question -- how about i answer that one? all right. >> [laughter] president obama: first of all, if you look back at the transcripts, what i said was that russia has been propping up assad this entire time. the fact that putin finally had to send his own troops and his own aircrafts and invest this massive military operation was not a testament to great strength, it was a testament to the weakness of assad's position.
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if somebody is strong, then you don't have to send in your army to prop up your ally. they have legitimacy in their country and they are able to manage it themselves, and you have good relations with them. you send in your army when the horse you are backing isn't effective. and that is exactly what has happened. now, what i said was that russia would involve itself in a quagmire. absolutely, it will. if there's anybody who thinks that somehow the fighting ends because russia and the regime has made some initial advances, about three quarters of the country is still under control of folks other than assad. that is not stopping anytime soon. i say that, by the way, with no pleasure. this is not a contest between me
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and putin. the question is how can we stop the suffering, stabilize the region, stop this massive out-migration of refugees, who are having such a terrible time. end the violence, stop the bombing of schools and hospitals and innocent civilians, stop creating a safe haven for isis, and there's nothing that has happened over the last several weeks that points to those issues being solved. that is what i mean by a quagmire. putin may think that he is prepared to invest in a permanent occupation of syria with russian military. that is going to be pretty costly. that is going to be a big piece of business. if you look at the state of the russian economy, that's probably not the best thing for russia.
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what would be smarter would be for russia to work with the united states and other parties in the international community to try and broker some sort of political transition. john kerry, working with his russian counterpart, has, on paper, said there will be a cessation of hostilities in a few days. this will test whether or not that is possible. it is hard to do, because there has been a lot of bloodshed. if russia continues indiscriminate bombing of the sort we have been seeing, i think it is fair to say you will not see any take-out by the opposition. and yes, russia is a major military. obviously, a bunch of rebels are not going to be able to compete with the hardware of the second-most powerful military in
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the world. but that doesn't solve the problem of actually stabilizing syria. the only way to do that is to bring about some sort of political transition. we will see what happens over the next several days. and we will continue to work with our partners who are focused on defeating isis to also see how we can work together to try and bring about a more lasting political solution than aerial bombardment of schools and hospitals. but it's hard. i'm under no illusions here that this is going to be easy. a country has been shattered. because assad was willing to shatter it. and has repeatedly missed opportunities to try and arrive at a political transition.
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and russia has been party to that entire process. and the real question we should be asking is what is it that russia thinks it gains if it gets a country that has been completely destroyed as an ally? it now has to perpetually spend billions of dollars to prop up. that's not that great a prize. unfortunately, the problem is it has spillover effect. that has it impacting everybody. that is a we have to focus on. one thing i wanted to add this , has not distracted us from continuing to focus on isil. we continue to press that hard in iraq and syria. that will not stop.
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if we can get a political transition in syria that allows us to coordinate more effectively with not just russia but other countries in the region to focus on the folks who pose the greatest direct threat to the united states. all right? andrew beatty. >> thank you, mr. president. i wanted to ask you first of all whether you think that military intervention will be necessary in libya to dislodge the islamic state. as an extension of that, do you think that by the end of your presidency, the islamic state will still have geographical strongholds throughout the middle east? and i can't resist asking -- how was the stadium course? what did you shoot? [laughter] president obama: uh -- the last, for nongolfers, is a reference to pga west. very nice course.
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very difficult. my score is classified. >> [laughter] president obama: uh, with respect to libya, i had been cleared from the outset that we will go after isis wherever it appears, the same way we went after al qaeda wherever they appeared. the testament to the fact that we are doing that already is that we took out one of isis's most prominent leaders in libya. we will continue to take actions where we got a clear operation and a clear target in mind. we're working with our other coalition partners to make sure that as we see opportunities to prevent isis from digging in, we
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take them. at the same time, we're working diligently with the united nations to try and get a government in place in libya. that is that a problem. the tragedy of libya over the last several years is libya has a relatively small population and a lot of oil wealth and could be really successful. they are divided by tribal lines and ethnic lines, power plays. there is now a recognition on the part of a broad middle among their political leadership that it makes sense to unify so that there is some semblance of the state there, but extremes on either side are still making it difficult for that state to cohere.
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if we can get that done, that will be enormously helpful, because our strong preference, as has always been the case, is to train libya to fight. the good news in libya is that they don't like outsiders coming in and telling them what to do. there's a whole bunch of constituencies who are hardened fighters and don't ascribe to isis or their perverted ideology. but they have to be organized and can't be fighting each other. that is probably as important as anything we will be doing in libya over the coming months. charlie? >> thank you, mr. president. the democratic race to replace you has gotten pretty heated lately.
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you have hillary clinton saying -- at least casting herself as the rightful heir to your legacy, and the one who will be the keeper of your legacy, while also saying that bernie sanders has been disloyal to you. is she right? president obama: well -- that's the great thing about primaries, everyone is trying to differentiate themselves, when in fact bernie and hillary agree on a lot of stuff and disagree pretty much across the board with everything the republicans stand for. so my hope is that we can let the primary voters and caucus-goers have their say for a while, and let's see how this thing plays itself out. i know hillary better than i know bernie, because she served in my administration, and she was an outstanding secretary of state.
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i suspect that, on certain issues, she agrees with me more than bernie does. on the other hand, there may be a couple issues where bernie agrees with me more. i don't know, i haven't studied their positions that closely. here's what i have confidence in. that democratic voters believe in certain principles. they believe in equal opportunity. they believe in making sure that every kid in this country gets a fair shot. they believe in making sure that economic growth is broad-based and everybody benefits from it, and if you work hard you are not in poverty. they believe in preserving a strong safety net through programs like social security and medicare. they believe in a foreign policy that is not reckless, that is
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tough and protects the american people but doesn't shoot before it aims. they believe in climate change. they think science matters. they think it is important for us to have some basic regulations, to keep our air and water clean, to make sure that banks aren't engaging in excesses that could cause a we saw in 2007-2008. there's a broad convergence of interest around those issues. i think what you are seeing among democrats right now is a difference in tactics, tried to figure out -- trying to figure out, how do you get things done? how do you operate in a political environment that's become so polarized? how do you deal with the power of special interests, and how do you deal with a republican party
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right now that has moved so far to the right that it is often hard to find common ground? that's, i think, the debate that is taking place right now. it is a healthy debate. ultimately, i will probably have an opinion on it, based on a candidate of hope and change and a president who has some nicks and cuts and bruises over getting things done. over the last seven years. but for now i think it is , important for democratic voters to express themselves and for the candidates to be run through the paces. the thing i can say unequivocally is that i am not unhappy i'm not on the ballot. [laughter]
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ron allen, nbc. >> i want to continue the 2016 questions. on the republican side, a lot of your guests were probably very intrigued by the fact that there is a candidate who is calling for a ban on muslims and significant segments of the population. president obama: intrigued is an interesting way of putting it. >> that's one of my five questions. [laughter] president obama: ron, let's stick to two. >> in the past, you have explain that anger and resentment is not the cure to economic responsibility -- how much responsibility do you except for the reservoir of feeling in the country that is propelling that candidate? a couple weeks ago, you said donald trump were not win the presidency. do you now think you will not win the nomination? and what about rubio and cruz? president obama: uh, i think
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foreign observers are troubled by some of the rhetoric that has been taking place in these republican primaries and republican debates. i don't think it is restricted, by the way, to mr. trump. i find it interesting that everyone is focused on trump, primarily because he says in more interesting ways what the other candidates are saying as well. he may up the ante in anti-muslim sentiment, but if you look at what other republican candidates have said, that's pretty troubling, too. he may express strong anti-immigration sentiment, but you heard that from the other candidates as well. you have got a candidate who sponsored a bill that i supported to finally solve immigration problems, and he is
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running away from it as fast as he can. they're all denying climate change. i think that is troubling to the international community. since the science is unequivocal. and, the other countries around the world, they kind of count on being on theates side of science. and reason. and common sense. that if the know united states does not act on big problems in smart ways, nobody will. but this is not just mr. trump. look at the statements that are being made by the other candidates. there is not a single candidate in the republican primary that thinks that we should do anything about climate change.
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that thinks that it is serious. that is a problem, the rest of the world looks at that and says, how can that be? i will leave it to you to speculate on how this whole race is going to go. i continue to believe that mr. turnbull not be president. and the reason is, because i have a lot of faith in the american people. and i think that they recognize that being president is a serious job. hosting a talk show. or reality show. it is not promotion. it is not marketing. it is hard. and a lot of people count on is getting it right. and it is not a matter of pandering and doing whatever will get you in the news on a given day, and sometimes, it
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requires you making hard decisions even when people do not like it. and doing things that are unpopular. and standing up for people who are vulnerable, but do not have some powerful political constituency. and it requires being able to work with leaders around the reflects they that importance of the office. and gives people confidence that you know the facts. and you know their names. and you know where they are on a map. and you know something about their history. and you not just going to play to the crowd back home. because, they have their own crowds back home. and you're trying to solve problems. so, during primaries people vent and they express themselves
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and it seemed like entertainment, and often times it is reported just like entertainment, but, as you get closer, the reality has a way of intruding. who ihese are the folks have faith in. because, they ultimately, are going to say, whoever is standing where i'm standing right now, has the nuclear codes with them, and can order firefight,s into a and you have to make sure that the banking system does not collapse. and, is often responsible for not just the united states of america, but, 20 other countries that are having big problems or are falling apart in a going to be looking for us to do something. the american people are pretty sensible. and i think that they will make a sensible choice in the end. all right? thank you everybody.
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thank you. [applause] >> the republican south carolina primary is on saturday. water trump campaigns and bro, south carolina, that is live at 5 p.m. eastern. holds a town rubio meeting. afterwards, we take your phone calls. that begins at 6:00 eastern. this weekend, a city tour hosted by our chartered communications partners takes you to south carolina to explore the literary culture. when thetember 1939, world went to war, our allies,
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looked tod france, washington, d.c., for the materials they need it. so washington, d.c., looked down to the textile capital of the world into all of a sudden intonment contracts came this area asking the mills to begin producing for the war effort. initially for our allies and then for the united states as well. >> then, on american history tv >> falls.re standing by the this was a nasty spot. looking at it now, one of the best parks in the country. but this was a depressed, nasty place. it is a great story of how a a causey can get behind and start to appreciate and cherish its river and waterfall again. >> watch saturday at noon
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eastern on c-span book tv. and sunday afternoon at 2:00 on american history c-span3. the c-span cities tour. visiting cities across the country. >> every election cycle, we are reminded how important it is for citizens to be in warm. foro me, c-span is a home political junkies. c-spane are a lot of fans up on the hill. my colleagues, they are going to say, i saw you on c-span. sure peopleke outside of the beltway know what is going on the inside of it. >> dan rosenthal spoke last month about the challenges of closing guantanamo bay military prison. that is tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. eastern time.
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here is a portion of that discussion. >> guantanamo is terribly important to this country and i am worried about the people they are in dire want them treated well and i want them home. more than that, i am worried about what it means for the country. guantanamo was established to avoid the law. guantanamo,rpose of the bush administration considered the law an impediment it had to avoid and they said, if we put foreigners in a place that is technically outside of our sovereign territory, we can avoid our courts in to deprive them of legal rights. weortunately, even though won a right to have be as corpus and constitutional right, the washington, d.c., circuit says they still do not have a right to due process.
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the government puts them over there and they are beyond the reach of the constitution. that is a horrible thing for this country. loophole. i find it reprehensible. i not only want them home, i wanted corrected said the united states can stand by their principles. >> you can't watch this entire event from the florida law p.m.r on wednesday at 8:00 eastern time here on c-span. next, fivethirtyeight founder nate silver talks about polling data and the election. he spoke at george mason university. >> thank you for coming back. it is important for them to take
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some breaks. say tyler has many interests as you know. i cannot tell you what tyler and nate are about to discuss. i can promise you this -- it will be challenging. it will be fascinating. above all, it will the entertaining. so please join me in welcoming tyler cohen and nate silevr. -- silver. [applause] tyler: nate doesn't eat much of an introduction. he is a phenomenon in the area of data, sports, politics, online media and all the growth sectors basically. i think of you as dedicated to the idea of numbers, and data.
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wanted to apply that to as many different areas as possible. if you had to say, of all the areas of human life, where can data being the -- bring the biggest improved aware with that the? nate silver: that is a pretty heavy question. you know, look, i think the answers are probably obvious in some sense. where health is an area. is incredibly valuable. doctors are not known for being terribly analytics driven. i don't of the culture enough as to know why. --terms of areas that we are that i would like us to focus on eight, criminality and criminal justice. in part, because you have a lot of issues with data. know how manyo people are killed by police officers you don't really know that very well. education is another area where
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he could have a lot of data use. it is used poorly, as well as data used well. urban planning is something we're fascinated by. we did a big analysis of uber data. we spent $2 million of our own which is that uber in new york was not adding car should the streets. tyler: if we applied more data to the law, what kind of improvement can you imagine we might come up with? nate silver: i think them up in the last field where you would have -- a noncitizen a pejorative way -- -- i don't say this in a pejorative way. answer that is at least approximately right. whereas the legal sector i think relies more on precision.
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you want to very sites -- precise answer. that is kind of what you're avoiding sometimes and fiscal analysis. tyler: i sometimes wonder, how much data to people want? i went back to your high school yearbook as prep for this. i took a look at the quotation you left it is from the combat. -- macbeth. liars and swimmers are full's, because there are enough to be the honest man." nate silver: you are entitled that of high school, i think. [laughter] tyler: when you give a lot of people a chance to view the quality of the hospital, or doctor, they aren't interested. as a citizenry, how much dated you think people want? do you think it is a kind of entertainment? do people want to see real data on how good or how honest they actually are?
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nate silver: my partner got really into 23 and want honesty do. you actually tell you all that much. i don't want to stress about a bunch of things i can't necessarily affect. i don't know. empowering people to make better decisions with their own health is a noble notion. i am enough of a free marketer that i say you should give people the information, whether or not they use it well it is their right. i'm not sure at a firm conclusion whether or not it leads to better decisions. amongression is that doctors, and hospital administrators, they are not , despitedata-driven their rigorous work in other respects. tyler: i think of you as a kind of super forecaster.
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do you think you can beat prediction markets? nate silver: not all the time, but a smidgen above average. if this were a game and we were all investors, at the end of 40 years you have some excess returns. i think made by small amount but not enough to make up the variance. it's been to what market you are talking about. i think the market in politics are not all that liquid, or that sophisticated. i know the various sports hubs we have have tended to beat they guess not by a lot -- vegas. not by a lot, but 52% of the time. tyler: that is a lot. nate silver: it is a lot, and it does what i spend a lot of my time taking about.
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arrogant to for anyone to think they can beat markets. right? at the same time, the more worshipful we become of markets and the less useful they become as well. know donaldell, i trump is going to win because he's up to 52% -- it is lower now -- but is that fair? that i think doesn't add any value to the conversation. i am more interested as a person in providingrcher, information that other people can aggregate. if you are talking about our political market -- the first question is how good our markets?
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the answer to that is pretty is not verye air linear. when it is off they can be off by quite a lot. is the person who knows when they are off? that is harder to do. tyler: what is the difference between forecasting in futurism? do you have any predictions for the year 2050? not great, just better than the market. think i am mildly pessimistic in some ways. tyler: what is the biggest source of your pessimism? [laughter] nate silver: i don't know. there's probably some survivorship bias. willing about how our way persevere forever forever, and ever. we were talking backstage about how you go to asia -- not as often as you do -- but if you
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want to feel optimistic but civilization then go there. but, some of it is thinking about this donald trump phenomena. tyler: i have heard of him. nate silver: it just made me consider that a lot of assumptions people made about how american politics work really based on the relatively narrow slice of history. 2000world war ii through or so. or 1980-2000. it is gotten a lot of history. in many other contexts, they're all types of places run the world where nationalism is a much bigger phenomenon that it is in the united states. and racism is embedded in a great deal of political turmoil in the united states. in some ways, i wondered after the great recession how come we haven't seen more upheaval, more
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social upheaval. maybe we're seeing that a little bit delayed. it is more of a revolution of rising expectations. a the same time, there is tendency now to focus on -- i don't politics to focus on a specific -- i know in politics to focus on a specific picture. there is a lot of wonderful news in some sense in terms of poverty rates going down globally, income inequality going down, diseases being eradicated. muchder to some extent how the media culture tends to focus the lens on negative aspects society. optimistically, do you think data can improve matching? should we just follow the algorithms, or that a potential that end?
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or does it just focus -- force you to choose someone to get you out of a decision? [laughter] nate silver: i think the market would say that people find online services fairly useful. maybe it removes some spontaneity. i met my partner at a bar which feels almost old-fashioned now, really. pills,ld be like these or the placebo effect. nate silver: i think there was a lot of over optimization. almost across any sector you want to talk about where data is being used to optimize a short-term equilibrium. it is much harder to measure the long-term. before, you couldn't measure anything at all. the navy your shirt -- then maybe your services were that bad. what is going to get my website
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the next traffic -- most traffic 36 hours from now isn't necessarily the best decision in the long run. you can measure some things come and not others, that can make you quite myopic. tyler: you mentioned donald trump a moment ago. i told quite a few people i didn't think trump could get very far. it is not obvious that i was right, paul krugman said early on that hit quite a good chance. what is it that he saw that i did not? nate silver: i was one of the skeptics, too. let me say, i thought you'd ask a version of this question. tyler: i wasn't allowed to blame you. [laughter] that is important, i think. i got a little frustrated because before saying rutrump will instantly evaporate in the polls list up we said that could
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happen but there were a lot of candidates like pat buchanan and or 30% ofill get 25% the electorate and they have a high floor, low ceiling advantage. that could still wind up being true. thing,at said, for one we're dealing with a fairly small sample of relevant election. people look at the primaries going back to 1972, and one basic lesson is that when you 15, thereple size of is nothing you can do to make it not a sample size of 15. no matter how compelling you can make a rationalization to say we have fear he as well as empirics here. i think maybe making people more conscious about saying unlikely
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verses never. the record will show we said unlikely, and not never. still, it is a lot of things to give up. i don't know. you talk about what super forecasters are supposed to do. priors, and it said that the prior to win the nomination. what signs could i find that would violate that assumption? it is not necessarily performing well in early polls, lots of candidates -- unusual candidates -- have done well in early polls. lots of unusual candidates have won iowa or new hampshire, not usually both. tois the ability consolidate the field after that to become a consensus choice of the party this been more
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unusual. that assumption still might prove to be true. i do think that i, and a lot of other people, overrated the ability of the republican party to stop what i think is a radical insurgency within the gop. tyler: the party is weaker than you thought. what other ideas about the world you think we should revise? paul krugman would say republicans are racist and many other people would believe. nate silver: that is a little bit of what i wanted to resist. i think one lazy, in my thinking are thosep, is there weapons consistent for a long time. i thought the people who were approached trump were generally mp were people whose opinions i would not wait
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eight as highly. i think it is lazy, and quite dangerous. tyler: does michael bloomberg have a chance, if he chooses to run? nate silver: give me a probability. i think as a 2.8% this morning. is that too high or too low? of becoming president. nate silver: probably about right. in some ways, the climate could be as fertile as ever for some type of third candidate running. but bloomberg, i don't know. i don't know if he differentiates that much from clinton, with whom he is a lot trump from whom he is the same character. ,ut between sanders and trump or clinton and trump, everything is quite left of center. when he was thinking about running as an independent in 1999 had a platform but it
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involved a wealth tax coming with anti-immigration even then and pro-choice. he said he would reconsider his stances if he began the republican nominee. today, the more viable candidate in that case would be like a mitt romney, condoleezza rice ticket persimmon like that. tyler: let's move past the esoteric and give people what they really want to hear. let's connect in 1968, the world -- let's go back to 1968, the world series. he took mickey stanley, pull them out of center fielder but the minute shortstop for stop. no one had ever done this before. you were advising at that time -- how do you start digging but that problem? -- start thinking
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about that problem? nate silver: we know a lot more now about the value of defense than we did in the late 60's, or even 10 years ago. if anything, defense to the to be quite a bit more important that people would have thought. that was ironic when some of the conventional scout and wisdom was confirmed as data got more advanced and more sophisticated. if want to get really complicated, and to the tigers had denny mcclain and a strikeout have a pitching staff maybe you worry about defense a little bit less, tiger stadium is a park conducive to low batting average is to begin with. it is not obvious to me that it was the best move. it is interesting that all of a sudden, baseball teams in football teams become, in -- correct when they have more on the line. in the world series, usage is a
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lot better. you bring your best guy in the eighth inning of the seventh-inning and in the nfl teams will go for two more often. it will go for it on fourth down more often. when the stakes are high, and the outcome of the game is all that matters, then things are different. tyler: who is the underrated candidate in the republican race this year? [laughter] to impose a kind of consistency on you. nate silver: i mean, i don't know. tyler: you have to go along with someone. nate silver: i think the markets are fairly close to correct right now. rubio optimist for a while in the very that he is the only candidate who really has appeal to all the various sectors in the gop.
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that may be a fraying party, but he has the highest favorability rating in the party. speaks the language of conservatives without being too extreme. the big question is where is trump's ceiling? 35%the start of 25% in iowa, is much harder to the case when he would be harder to stop. half ofnew hampshire, republicans there said they would not want him as their nominee. the question is -- can the non-trump candidates organize themselves into one candidate. then does he a 35%, or 40%? if he gets a 51%, then it doesn't really matter. suppose, i think rubio at
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3-to-1 should be more like 3- to-1. tyler: what about the ted cruz there he? that you knew less cover my's in canada to bring up the violent conservatives very don't devote. and that there is a lot of them and cruises more electable than more electables than rubio? nate silver: talking but the priors and kind of occam's razor . the reason why that is relevant senators are easier to measure their ideology because they legislate. we also have a much larger sample size. not a price that can be overcome if we go into a big recession or if clinton or bernie has huge problems. youcruz would probably cost three or four points relative to the median generic republican.
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tyler: last i saw, bernie's it share with coming at 17%. at that price to go long or short? nate silver: probably short, but it is also not radically mispriced. what people miss is that unlike on the gop side where trump has passed the first test. people are out there willing to vote for him. there was some doubt about that after iowa. sanders we haven't really seen can he win states that are not very white, and very liberal? maybe he can, nevada seems to be pretty close. we haven't really received that much information that would make you update your priors about sanders all that much. he probably has to win by a little bit of room to spare. if it is a tie, then clinton
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will probably win on the basis of superdelegates. if she loses by a couple of points but it is close enough. if you're an underdog in a football game and you lose unless you win by more than a field goal, that reduces your win probability quite a bit. theou're the favorite, maybe it wouldn't. that is tricky. when underdogs when they tend to win narrowly. becauseon wins superdelegates turning arrow bernie when by a field goal into after further review we have an overtime quarter. i think 10 or 15% is more in that range probably is about right. tyler: let's turn to a nobler endeavor -- sports. fan of baseball. i would like to ask you come up all the different baseball records, which one is most impressive to you? -- the largest
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statistical moderation. with the 36 triples in 1912. what is the most politically impressive baseball record, and why? nate silver: the biggest outlier is the intentional walks the barry bonds drew. was att closest player 50 when he had 168. there was no other record i can think of where the recordholder has three times as much as the nearest player. tyler: to the streaks in place -- impress you more or less than other people? things like cal ripken, mickey those. nate silver: one of the area where simple answers might not have been totally correct.
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there was a lot of talk for a long time about how the hot hand theory was false. basically things are random. now there is more argument against that. if you have a task that has low power, then you made a mistake. oft may result four-legged -- may result in a negative result. you'd expect there is some variation in some behavior in the day today. it was lester guinness and you might think. -- we have a greater or lesser extent to that than you might think. we have some unpublished research that a colleague of mine is doing. it looks like if you maybe predict batting average up or
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down, or on-base average 20 or 30 points from a baseline. in baseball terms, that is pretty relevant. if you have aguy in the leadoff spot and he's really a340 in his current condition, then he should be demoted down to the 8th spot in the lineup. things.true of a lot of fromnow, the first cut data is over simple five. -- simplified. tyler: what do you think based on the evelyn's -- evidence that we have, like with the houston rockets run by daryl morey. it seems to be supersmart, and right now the big debate in houston is which of their two star players they should trade, or maybe both? they might not even make the playoffs?
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how does regression in data analytics work in sports? nate silver: the golden state warriors might be the best examples. tyler: clearly, it increases your variance. so the good examples will look really good. but as a predictor how hard it d we be selling it? nate silver: you talk about how hard it is. there was a little bit of this in sports. a colleague of mine just wrote a book that is not published yet but he and sam miller and givenr stat head were run of a minor league team for a year. they encountered baseball culture in a very head-on way. the team did pretty well, it was a very obscure minor league. the baseline, if
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is making cap your decisions orht and you make 55% right, 53% right, that is a pretty big gain at the margin. ort as noisy as baseball, it will take a long time to show up. basketball is less noisy, but in areral i think the spurs fairly analytics friendly, the rockets come and the warriors. i think basketball is probably the best example. tyler: there is not much of a natural time unit. it is hard to squeeze in commercials. they're not always well-defined. defense is more confusing to this american than criquet. did market salaries of soccer
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players are determined. the small amount of data seems to predict does very well. the fact that soccer being a normal ways, does that mean we can still get it all done with limited data? or does that mean having more data doesn't help for a much and in all sports are a little bit like soccer? i feel like i will answer all your questions in the far i which is analysis is from perfect. you'll make a lot of mistakes. at the same time, pretty good is hard to beat sometimes. things that develop over time about how to evaluate people at different positions. the don't appropriately value goalkeepers all that much. we are in soccer that in the very early stages. there hasn't been very much data collected. it is not the mba -- like the
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nba where you have defensive stat. for espn a fewem years ago. the only data that has been captured long-term and soccer is goals, and red cards and yellow cards. until not have assists recently. you can maybe get time on the pitch if you parse play-by-play records. we don't have crossing passes. i think there is still a lot of room for upward improvement in soccer. live in a global economy with billy and delivers. why don't more people learn the knuckleball? dickey on the cy young with the knuckleball he taught himself. why so few knuckleballer's? why isn't that a more regularize process? twornate silver: i have
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answers. wonders their diminishing returns of a number of knuckleballer to have in the league. when you have a second, it affects his success. i think there is a second thing which is that sports tends to engender conformism. do.t of walks of life that is the whole tension that comes up. on the one hand, the market is usually pretty good. on the other hand, there are powerful biases that can form. tyler: trumpet but the knuckleballer politics, then? therump is like knuckleballer of politics then. yeah, kind of. the other fiscally to think about it is when you have some sayhat is unusual you can
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that trump on average would get less than a vote and someone higher in the polls was done but he is a much longer pay off on the side. that is no reason to not be dismissive of him. in the early going whenever one was a long shot. tyler: in all of these interviews, we do a kind of game called underrated versus overrated. i name if you think you tell me if you think there underrated or overrated. you're free to pass on any. i -- upperty, the east side? nate silver: i think a little overrated. but look, new york is efficiently priced. we tried to if years ago say what was the best neighborhood. the problem is, cost accounts
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.93 in our quality index. it is hard to improve your life in new york at the neighborhood level. good hold thefind wall places to eat. the ramen shops are getting better. i would judge everything by food. tyler: the short as avenue in manhattan, is six blocks long. overrated, or underrated? littlelver: a underrated. it is short, and a very dynamic section of town. tyler: even with all the bookstores close down? the idea legalizing drugs, overrated or underrated? crowd,lver: by this probably rated properly. [laughter] nate silver: i mean, i don't know.
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l libertarian.e i think the government ought to have a stronger reason to intervene in places that people are making decisions. to me, it makes no sense to treat marijuana as being a more serious substance than alcohol, for example. i don't think in my heart of hearts if i were running for office or in the senate that i bill tote for a legalize heroin, or cocaine. but decriminalizing it, perhaps. ofhink the kind consequentialist case for a long time was probably underrated. it meant gone too far into the other direction. i would say if it is close, then you give people the choice. tyler: musical group my bloody
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valentine. they put out an album in 2013 after almost a 20 year hiatus. overrated or underrated? nate silver: the group, or the album? tyler: the album. nate silver: i think the album was properly rated. tyler: singapore, overrated or underrated? nate silver: just by you. i know exactly why you would like it, it is like a little laboratory experiment. we were talking before about youapore is a place where could have some constraints that might seem slightly strange. maybe having a few you constraints is helpful. you talk about the -- my sister lived in germany for a while wile.
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if you're there in the shop and it will close at four clock at doesn't matter if you have a huge lot of groceries, the store will close down and you have to put your stuff back. and then you come back tomorrow which seems irrational. but the germany has little weird quirks. it seems to be doing, i do know, fairly well in some ways. or scandinavia, or something, if you give up a little bit of freedom to have more freedom. i thought i could organize freedom, how scandinavian of me. singapore feels a little bit like that. tyler: this is a big compound question about a few things. hisof them is sports, one fantasy sports, and one is gambling. what is your take, what do these actually do for us? how socially productive are they? ask a comparable question about gambling legalization or liberalization.
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externalitysocial on this mix of sports, fantasy sports, and gambling? nate silver: one of the things regular fantasy football link that you are in with your friends is that you get a lot out of it. you get to see people you wouldn't see very often. especially as you get older, you get to watch a lot of games with more of a rooting interest. daily fantasy sports is that a lot of that is really taken away. it is very much like a brute force approach to watching sports. basically, i had a program that was randomly generating high-scoring lineups. you scrape that data than you loaded up to underline that a time. it kind of took all the joy out of it. it isn't quite what you're
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asking, right? tyler: right. [laughter] --e silver: i think tyler: what if people just watch sports? if it is a good game, i enjoy it. don't feel like i need to gamble on it. i want to read you, or other analytics, then watch the game. what am i missing? what they can but gambling in fantasy sports is it is a good way to teach people about analytics. i think this has a measurable benefit to society. look, this is a case where, unlike drug legalization where there aren't a lot of countries where drugs a part of marijuana -- worldwide people are much more relaxed about gambling.
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it is normalized, you can go to the betting shop. it doesn't seem to ruin society. maybe you have come and low-paying leagues or in canada the occasional betting scandal which is not great. i think it is a way for people to enjoy sports. they can develop critical thinking skills. again, if it is close, i say let people do it. i feel that way about gambling. you do have examples of many westernized countries where betting on sports is legal. it seems not to be a grave societal harm. tyler: you run the website fivethirtyeight. you developed it, founded, to get to espn. over those years, what is the most important thing you learn about managing? nate silver: basically, there
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are three strategies. three fundamental strategies of management. when you disagree with something one of your employees is doing. up.of which is you can give you can say i will not take this bat to the fight. there is a consequence of this person's morale, or i have other issues. you can capitulate. number two, you can fiat. you can say i'm the one that signs the checks. you will not publish that article. you can try to persuade instead. that is perfect except the persuasion is really time-consuming. [laughter] nate silver: figuring out which tos of those three tactics use, and in what ratio, is i think important.
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i honestly found overall there is a little bit more value in micromanagement and i thought. not about everything, but strategically saying i will spend a lot of time going into detail on this one part. which sports coach or manager are you most like? who do you draw inspiration from? -- i amver: i am like fiare, fair -- laissez but when i weigh in on something i will do it directly. if you hire really well, and it is a culture of creative journalists. journalists are strange and wonderful people.
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if the trust people to make their own decisions. a big thing to his figuring out which one of my deputies, the other managers and editors on the staff, what is my agreement ratio with them? it is valuable to have someone who come without your intervention, agrees with you 80% of the time. in the 20% of time they disagree they are right as often as not. if it goes to 95% and there is is probably bad. if they go to 60% then you might as will do the work yourself. you find people who listen to you but also challenge you at the right time. tyler: you mentioned food before, let's take a data intensive approach to food. what is a restaurant we could consult or advocate others consulting in this endeavor? is a fairly this
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basic one. i would rather looking at yelp porch of advisor, the number of review to the better cigna visor -- signifier than the average star rating. especially relative to how long a place has been open. when you adjourn for more diverse segment of people, -- towards are drawing more diverse segment of people. a lot of 9/11 conspiracy books ated pretty well in amazon but none of the conspirators bothered to read them. [laughter] rate silver: whereas othello o eth, people who have to be to could lead a -- leave a bad review. but it comes and places where employees will drive to my not
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like that cuisine as much. when i go and i used to do more yelping. place, to a mom and pop there's almost no way i will leave a negative review for that place. anyone'sant to hurt feelings. study showed that yelp reviews dollars inousands of business for a restaurant that has under 50 reviews. tyler: is a better food on the avenues or the streets in new york city? i have read yiou on this. weird,lver: new york is there are three of them from a culinary perspective. there is the rich, michelin star new york, the hip williamsburg and there's the ethnic
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new york -- for lack of a better term. if you limit a list of places small three types of those, there are some rules that work well in one of those lanes that don't work well in the others necessarily. you have a high reference of new york it is so competitive that i think you rule out the weirdest thing on the menu. some places that isn't true because it is a hypercompetitive that the menu could not afford to lead people astray. sometimes the menu is clearly pointing you towards the kind of thing that you would want to order instead. that might not be true if you go ns, or something like that. probably pound for pound the food is better in manhattan, or brooklyn. you can read a whole book, maybe about eating food in new
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york. before, one of my dreams to someday you write a quantitative history of new york city. this would be one of my favorite books. weather --out the whether reporting. forecast, are over why is that? is this even true? nate silver: nate silver: it is true the further downstream you go. meteorologists in tv -- on tv want to get high ratings. they are trying to scare you. tyler: it is like they want the iraq war so people turn on cnn. nate silver: the data the government produces is well calibrated and does not have a bias. interesting in my shoes going from someone who was
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a total outsider to someone who has more reputational risk. to a first approximation, i think it might make someone a worse forecaster intentionally. thing, thing about trump my early view that child had a trump had a- that low chance of winning the nomination is not based on a former model. i wonder even if i had a fairly bad model instead. the good thing about building a system model is it commits you to rules. instead of saying early polls are not very predictive, therefore probably not. itis you down and says -- pins you down and says early
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polls are not predictive, but what point does it become more predictive? when trouble went from 25 -- when trump went from 25 to 35% in the polls, how significant is that? answer designed ahead of time may be more helpful than people would think. i guess a long way of saying it better not sure i'm any than the average pundit unless i have a model. doing your thinking in advance and setting up rules of evidence is probably quite important. tyler: i have a question about the economics and sociology of sports. this has puzzled me for a while. i am struck by the relatively small number of professional athletes who have come out as being gay. in hollywood, it is a lot of people. a very washington,
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conservative town, i would not say is a lot of people, but it happens in a quiet kind of way. in sports, why is there so little? if we applied some kind of economic or statistical model, in which sport would you expect to see the new breakthroughs coming when they come? nate silver: i am sure there are a lot of athletes in the closet. i don't assume it is 5% or whatever the population averages. i assume it is lower than that. i don't know. i think people forget about how much the economics change when you are talking about people in the 0.001% of something. until fairly recently, until maybe a few years ago, and in many parts of the country still now, until fairly recently, thatng up gay is something
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requires a lot of bandwidth or energy. data about how hockey players are born in january. just because they start earlier than their peer group, that is a powerful effect versus being born in november or december instead. minor and haveat that profound and effect, where there are twice as many nhl players from january as december. been something as important to your identity as gay, that is a competitive disadvantage. there are also correlations and what kind of skills and traits people have. i don't know. but we will see three i guess the prediction is that very is true is as it has become more normalized and now people who are growing up in middle school and high school where being gay
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is not as much of the disadvantage, you would expect from that generation there would be substantially more gay athletes. tyler: in which sport will that happen first? what is the applied prediction? we see a bit of it in women's tennis. individual sports over team sports, yes, no? nate silver: you would think in tennis and golf, you might see it first. the nba where talent is so manifest and one player can make so much difference. lebron james could come out as gay tomorrow and i think it would not hurt his ability to get a contract at all. tyler: but it could heard endorsements -- heard endorsements -- hurt endorsements. nate silver: it could. i think it is not so much about sportsng side as much --
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is still a very conformist culture. the reason i might say the nba is i think it is more individualistic as a culture. guys are free to express themselves more. listen to baseball players talk. they are boring. kevin durham, these guys are smart and interesting. kareem abdul-jabbar. i would think basketball might be a sport where you would see it relatively soon. tyler: let me ask you a general question about forecasting. i worry about this in the context of finance. i see a lot of money managers. he saw one basic point about real interest rates, made billions off of that on a great run. now it is not obvious he and his team do better than anyone else. peter lynch had fantastic insights into considerable -- consumer-products. he believed that an age when
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consumer products. were taking off. warren buffett, worked great for a while, a lot of big failures in recent times. is it possible like the so-called true model is always shifting and there is a selection bias were different forecasters are elevated and have a run for however many years and in the true model shifts and what they're good at is not valued and we replace them with other forecasters? as our best forecaster -- our best forecaster, do you worry about this? nate silver: sure. even if you are skeptical about the efficiency of markets, if you are picking up $100 bills off the ground, you can extend that by three or five years by ducting and evolving -- adapting and evolving, that is on the extreme high and. three to five years is a fortunate run. verythough now we are
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immersed in the election cycle, that is part of why i wanted to make sure fivethirtyeight was not just an election site. we are going to blow an election sooner or later. we might blow this one. we are doing a diverse array of ofngs to actually and -- things is important. those who have skills to find the next underway did opportunity is trickier -- under weighted opportunity is trickier. i think a lot of people have one or two good insights. if you are very lucky, that can take you a long way. tyler: here is a related worry. it is clear stock market volatility is correlated over time. that is another way of saying those returns for a while are hard to forecast, and stay hard. this year politically is already
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a big surprise to me and a lot of people. could it be the case where -- we are entering a new era where political volatility is higher at all forecasters will do worse than they have been doing? nate silver: it is possible. the people take to be equilibrium baseline condition may have been an outlier instead. you have this relatively stable long boom, politics, economics and the 1950's through the early 2000's. that could potentially reverse itself. looking at examples outside of the united states i think is instructive. maybe i am more of a believer in american exceptionalism than i thought. but you see constituencies that are trying -- trumpian in different parts of europe for a long time.
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maybe america got really lucky for 50 years. in some ways, the world is getting weirder. there is the example of plane crashes. claims used to crash a lot for normal reasons. the engine would fall apart. we more resources in making planes safer. i just read last year there were zero deaths from jetliner crashes other than terror attacks. we have strange events like the germanwings pilot flying into the outs, malaysian air disappears and no one knows why. we are left only with the weird ones. do you think we are headed toward a future where we will only be talking about weird, hard to forecast events, precisely because we get good at involved -- avoiding a lot of problems? nate silver: for sure. there is some stupid metaphor i use in the book where one of the problems with comparing how shortstops play is you always
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kind of evaluate players on the edge of their range. can they make a spectacular diving catch? a first approximation, everyone is equally good at the edge of their range. the question is how much territory they cover in between, the non-spectacular plays we can miss potentially. it is probably more true. one reason why i like when we forecast sports is you have a chance to build up your sample size. a perfectly routine wizards versus cavaliers game where we have the cavs favored at home and they win, you get hundreds of those over the course of a season. in politics, you are more drawn to the spectacular and weird events. a lot of models are good when conditions are fairly normal, and they don't deal all that well with the edge cases because
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of the design or because they have small sample sizes or whatever else. do models deal with the weird cases versus others? i am not sure. maybe the advantage is more in the baseline case is instead. tyler: other than skill with data, what are the personal qualities of good predictors? nate silver: i think you have to have a certain mistrust of conventional wisdom. it is a tricky thing. on one hand, we know i am not that smart. this room is way smarter than me. a market is way smarter than me. at the same time, people are social beings. they behave in herds sometimes. this is easier in politics than almost any other field because the political press corps literally is kind of a herd.
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it is like the perfect example of it where you have a few hundred journalists who travel around together, talking to one another. it is not like 500 really smart people. it is like one or two really smart people and 489 followers instead. i don't know. we get ourselves in a little trouble little bit at fivethirtyeight at times because we are fairly combative. for a long time, i thought this is part of my personality. i think they are sides of the same coin. when you read the "new york nots" or "the post," factual statements where they say today donald trump was in arizona, but when there is a piece of analysis that is not necessarily obvious, to say there might be a 40% chance that is basically wrong, right?
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that leaves you in a replace kind of -- in a weird place kind of. that is a source of healthy skepticism and some of our failings sometimes. tyler: let me get to the question maybe the crowd most wants to hear. who will be the next president of the united arab emirates? [laughter] questionis is a trick because it is a hereditary monarchy. here is my background question. intelligence agencies and scholars did very poorly forecasting the arab spring and did very poorly forecasting isis. you are put on the case. someone from washington, they call you in and say, what variables should we be looking at to understand the middle east that we are under waiting now? i know it is a tough question. but who would be the next president of the united arab emirates?
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will there be a next president? i don't know that much about international politics to speculate that much. airlines -- iris flew via emirates airlines. tyler: four more years out, this nation, what is your best pick on who will be elected president? nate silver: who will be president in 2020? tyler: correct. nate silver: probably hillary clinton still. tyler: number two, next best pick? nate silver: i think it is close between donald trump and marco rubio. trump might be a one-termer. tyler: if that. [laughter] tyler: who is the most likely
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next vice president? maybe.lver: john kasich seems tailor-made for vice president joe. -- vice presidential. tyler: in if hillary were to win, he is the most likely to be vice president? nate silver: hillary has a lot objectives she want to fulfill. i think it is a shorter list for the g.o.p. can we use that to pick the next supreme court justice? nate silver: potentially. there are fleshly -- fledgling attempts at supreme court analytics. we are kind of in a sample size of zero. you have a nominee unlikely to be confirmed -- likely to be confirmed but there are still high political stakes. my uninformed guess would be maybe trinivasin who was
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confirmed 97-0. i don't know. the theory is either obama nominates someone with unimpeachable credentials and ores them look unreasonable he makes a pick that trolls republicans in place to the democratic base. i am more of a believer in the former as obama's mode of doing things. someone atmight have the risk of -- the republican base as opposed to the other way around. tyler: my last question before we get to the crowd. as you said before, we have a lot of the same interest, food, travel, sports. i am not sure politics counts as one of mine. but in a broad sense, politics. you have taken a lot of trips.
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if you apply data analysis to those trips, what do you learn about what makes for a good trend and what can we do to have better trips? travel.ver: i love i had an unintended experiment where i went to hawaii two christmases ago. for some reason, i sat on my phone and my phone did not work. we were flying through portland for some reason. we were flying new york to kansas city to portland to honolulu. don't ask why. the day i was in portland, i was panicked. we were at the strip mall on the edge of town. you have to wait in line two hours to replace your phone. i did not have a phone and why. it was the most amazing thing. tyler: you have repeated that experienced each subsequent trip? nate silver: no.
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i was in thailand this past christmas. build the primary election model. , workingbit of work 20% of the time reduces your enjoyment by 70%. [laughter] tyler: here is how we are going to do questions. we have two mics, one on each side. s. will run two que if you start making a speech or statement, i will cut you off. please just ask a question. it is fine to introduce yourself if you wish and then nate will respond. i will start over here. first question, please. >> my name is caleb. we talked earlier about super forecasters. i wondered if you have ever
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considered incorporating the work of super forecasters into fivethirtyeight. nate silver: the guys who wrote the book? >> getting a market of super forecasters to help you make your models. findsilver: i guess i crowdsourcing sort of boring. as a journalist, i find it boring. even though if you are in a business setting, that is exactly what you should do. we are doing that a little bit with the oscars this year. we found eight different people who created different models. we are seeing how well they do. ax awards is not near sufficient sample size to deal with something like that. i don't know. i am very process-driven as a person. for me, a lot of the joy is digging through the process of it.
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reading a book like this is useful. it talks about a process that is great. it is almost beside the point in the sense that you are still probably dealing with sample sizes too small to tell you that much. when you start to do that, it takes the focus away from thinking about process. it is kind of an unsatisfying answer, i guess. tyler: we have printed out a lot of nate's columns. there are many of them here. there is plenty you can ask about. >> my name is michael lily. if it winds up being clinton versus trump, is that the first time we've had to candidates with the highest unfavorables going against each other? nate silver: i would think so. romney was basically breakeven when he was nominated as obama was. clinton is -10.
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trump is -25 or something. there probably will be some reversion to the mean in both cases. imember, one reason why -- would say trump is a fairly heavy underdog. but it is a conditional probability. conditional on having won the g.o.p. nomination, trump will have had to display some staying power and acumen. you will have to get beyond 35% to win 50% or so. and probably will have done something to improve his image with people who are not in his core constituency. it would be unprecedented certainly. i wonder if he has to adjust. in baseball, you have to adjust stats for the era. if you're in the home run or steroid era, the home run does not matter as much. like maybe now obama with the 48%, would be like 56% park
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adjusted rating. [laughter] nate silver: i am not sure, maybe. tyler: expressed in. >--next question. >> my name is tom. he brought up the question about how much data people want. does the amount of data people want, is that influenced by the way data is presented? the second part would be, what advice would you give as far as presenting data or visualizing it? ite silver: visualizing might be some of the advice. people seem to learn better from visualization. one thing i think a lot about as a journalist is preferring simple models to more complicated models. there are other virtues of simple models. people can also take it too far. to havernalist something i can say this is a benchmark and i understand what
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it is doing, and i can what it is doing, and i can also understand what the limitations of it might be. i kind of know which direction to lean relative to that baseline. i think that is more useful than some datay we fed into a random number generator or a magic machine, and here is what it spent out. i highly prefer regression-based modeling to machine learning where you cannot really explain anything. to me, the whole value is in the explanation. when youk likewise explain and say we have the same interest in mind, to say this is pretty simple when you start peeling away the b.s. to me, that approach works a lot better in the long run than the approach of saying arguments of authority -- from authority,
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this is rigorous and empirical. explain to people why it is not that complicated and why you're making defensible assumptions, how that leads you to an answer that might surprise some. tyler: next question. >> frank mannheim school of policy. could you put numbers on the to elect presidents? for example, emotions, personal acquaintance, rational concepts, information, and so on. nate silver: the kind of classic political science answer is people are deeply concerned about the economy. 50% ornomy might make up so of what people vote about. there is room to dispute that. now, i that aside for
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don't know. iguess one of the reasons why was initially skeptical about trump is america has a history of not nominating candidates and electing candidates who are blatantly unfit for office. [laughter] i have a follow-up question to that. tyler: we are in the state of virginia. to the best of my knowledge, you are the only person to have calculated correctly the chance if you are a voter in virginia your vote will sway a presidential election. nate silver: individual voter? is the chance your vote in the state of virginia will matter? if you don't remember, i do. it is from your paper. nate silver: 10% divided by 4 million. tyler: one out of 10 million, the highest of any state. if you are going to vote anywhere, vote here.
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next question. >> tyler o'neill, a reporter with p.j. media. you mentioned how difficult it is, the weakness of empirical models when predicting president elections. is it possible to look at congressional elections, house of representatives races, and draw more information and modeling from those? nate silver: yeah. i think we would say even though it is less sexy to predict senate races or congressional races that having larger quasi-independent samples would be the better test ultimately. we saw in the senate races last year how the polls were off on average by three or four points, which is pretty bad. the problem is all those errors were in the same direction. a lot of races
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around the country they were underdogs in. virginia was almost a major upset. yeah. form of the purer exercise to do data mining on congressional elections versus fundamentals and whatever else. tyler: next question. >> my name is harold. you mentioned some things like limited data, limited observations, nonlinearity, and things of that nature that make traditional tools difficult. what are your thoughts on more computationally intensive methods for dealing with things like herd behavior that make some of these analyses more difficult? nate silver: agent-based modeling is interesting. if you can simulate the underlying mechanisms, this is how weather forecasting works by the way. weather forecasting is not
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statistically driven. they are creating a model of the atmosphere. if you have reason to know exactly how certain people would behave and how they behave as a system, agent-based modeling could give you insights you could not get from regression analysis. if you are wrong about those assumptions, things can go very haywire in a hurry. when i am building models myself now, i spend a lot more time thinking about the edge cases. let's put some really weird inputs in here on the edge of plausible and see how the model response to those. function have a approximately linear. for example, if you have a model saying hillary clinton will get
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106% of the vote in washington, , i used to think who really cares? she is going to win d.c. anyway. she may. you can vote twice in some parts of d.c. [laughter] nate silver: now, that bothers me more. i'm trying to think more about the correct functional form of a model that would apply when the going gets weird. when the going gets weird is when things are interesting. tyler: we have four minutes left. next question. >> my name is richard, i am an intern at the house of representatives. do you believe facebook and twitter has led to possible confirmation bias and led to people choosing more extreme views of political ideologies such as socialism, nationalism, marxism? nate silver: perhaps.
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the traditional two-dimensional political spectrum is a strange and contrived thing, too. it is the result of a very messy process of coalition building between parties. i mentioned reasons to be pessimistic earlier. a reason to be optimistic as a fan of democracy is you are seeing voice given to quirkier ideologies that are no less in thectually coherent democratic versus republican axis we have in the united states. i kind of believe in the notion of a filter bubble where people surround themselves where they are getting like information and not confronting themselves with unpleasant facts necessarily. you saw that a lot during the 2012 election where the polling was a lot more straightforward, and people still were kind of cherry picking data to tell themselves romney might win. you saw democrats do the reverse
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in the 2014 midterms more or less. as someone who is a critic of media, i think the way people consume media is important and has probably fairly large effects on our politics. tyler: last question. >> i am a law student here. i get my coverage of the election exclusively from fivethirtyeight. largely because of the unbiased nature, except for terry's unabashedly for chris christie. i noticed specifically in your debate coverage, one of the things you always mention is the mainstream media's portrayal of the debate matters more than anything else. when they say someone wins, that coverage carries. at the end of those pieces, you and your staff put together grades for how the candidate did.
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you may see where i am going with this. you strike me as someone who would rather predict that influence. do your sea -- do you see yourself where you could carry some weight in this election? nate silver: that is why primaries are tricky. in the general election, people are fairly sensible and retreat to their quarters. drivenes are so momentum it is a little bit weird. i am sure people do read what we say and so forth. it is not the type of influence i want. isthe same time, the fact all news coverage is influential. i would say at the very least, we promise some self-awareness. we are aware the way the events are covered by the press can affect voters' views. sometimes the press can be surprised it does not go the way they expect. you can have these big feedback
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loops. i am surprised how difficult it is. i'm glad you read us. i think one big edge we have times" is we york can talk about the media as a political actor. we are the media, too. and i am aware of the circularity of that. frankly i think one reason why during the primary sometimes the conservative fights are more is that theyo read also start out being more suspicious of the media. sometimes in ways that i think are wrong, like about the polls in 2012. i think having that skepticism of the media as a political actor instead of a benevolent right way to do things and is reflected in our coverage. i guess sometimes at the risk of being a little bit hypocritical
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potentially. but we do try and be very transparent about what we think is a fact, what is an opinion, what is an analysis. kind of what is a provocation. one reason i like your blog is you have a lot of provocations. are. clear what they it is clear they are provocations meant to incite discussion and debate. we will have a few of those at times. speaking in the first person i think is important and breaking from the voice of god where a storm cloud descended on new hampshire today. speaking as an individual trying to understand what the objective world is like this a lot of what we are all about. i think that should be reflected at least in the tone and approach of our coverage, even
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where we wind up getting things wrong in the end. tyler: here is nate's book. read nate's site. thank you for a great chat. [applause] announcer: south carolina republicans are not the only ones going to the polls on saturday. in nevada, the democratic caucuses will be taking place. david weigel writes for the "washington post" and is joining us. this has often been called hillary clinton's firewall. what can we expect when the results come in saturday evening from nevada? david: expect something closer than they would have liked a month ago. perhaps better than they are anticipating now. the clinton campaign first organized in nevada. in 2008, this was a state that

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