1. It’s Sunday, November 6, 2016. The election is two days away.
2. In the United States and Canada, we are now on Standard Time. At 2 a.m. today, it was 1 a.m. today again.
Every time we change the clocks, there is complaining. Some of it is justified – if you’re the parent of a newborn, you’ve been working diligently to get him or her on a nice steady sleeping pattern. And then wham, the kid’s getting up at 2 a.m. for the 3 a.m. feeding.
But most of the complaints are stupid. Why does it have to be dark at 4:30 p.m.? I got up early on a day I like to sleep in. What a pain it is to change all the clocks?
Let’s take ‘em in reverse order:
If you’re so lazy that you can’t take five seconds to change your clocks, there’s little hope for doing something serious, like voting on Tuesday. Your smartphone, computer and cable box all changed the time by themselves.
Do you think it’ll take more than two days to get your body clock adjusted to the time change? Three days? Besides, you get a chance to try out what it’s like to get up early.
Finally, we are still 45 days from the winter solstice. By that time, sunrise will be around 7:15 a.m. here. But in western parts of the Eastern time zone, sunrise will be around 8:15. If we didn’t change the clocks back, it would be around 9:15. That’s a ridiculously depressing time for the sun to rise.
In short, we go back and forth between daylight and standard time in order to give some semblance of normality to people’s days. Getting up and there’s daylight. That makes sense. Complaining about clock changing doesn’t.
3. Nate Silver is a guy people shouldn’t really feel sorry for.
He has revolutionized the reporting of data as news. While that might seem like trivia to some, the ability to cut through numbers to find facts is cherished in journalism – it’s one more path to truth, which – contrary to what Trumpian media critics believe – is the goal of everyone in the profession.
But the fact that numbers are not supposed to lie puts Silver in a tough spot.
Of all the projections of Tuesday’s election, Silver’s are the ones least favorable to Hillary Clinton. That doesn’t seem to sit well with her supporters in the media, some of whom believe that Silver is so afraid of being wrong in this election that he’s manipulating the numbers – and that is inspiring Trump’s team to rally his supporters in an effort to find a path to victory.
Trust me, there is no one who wants Silver’s fivethirtyeight.com numbers to show a Clinton landslide more than I do. I’m the one who wants to admit ten more states so that Trump could lose all 60.
But the reason anyone cares what Silver’s team is projecting about the election is his accuracy record. He’s missed maybe one state projection in the last two presidential races. His analysis and weighing of polls by their quality has always been first rate and based on science, not anecdote or emotion.
And, if Clinton wins, Nate Silver will not have gotten it wrong. He’s just more conservative about his projections than the others who are doing the same sort of poll analysis and crunching.
If the numbers are telling Silver that Clinton’s chances of winning are 64.2% (as of this posting), his track record up to now warrants respecting that analysis. Yes, I wish the percentage was 94%, and I really hope his analysis is just slightly off on a few states – say Florida, North Carolina, Nevada and Ohio.
But thank goodness there’s a Nate Silver who exercises caution, judgment and an understanding of science and math.
You don’t have to like what he’s telling us about Tuesday. You do have to respect it.