Nate Silver delivered the understatement of the year Wednesday night when Stephen Colbert asked him the one question he gets more than any other: “Who’s gonna win?”
Silver, the data journalist behind FiveThirtyEight.com, was on The Late Show’s live broadcast following the third and final presidential debate and he put it this way: “It’s not looking too good for Donald J. Trump.”
According to FiveThirtyEight’s obsessed-over model, Hillary Clinton went into the debate Wednesday leading Trump by seven points nationally, with an 87.3 percent chance of winning the presidential election.
Always fond of a good sports metaphor, Silver said it was “as though she was already 10 points ahead in a football game and Trump just threw a pick-six.” He also noted that for the first time, Clinton not only led in the scientific instant polls of who won the debate, but also in many of the unscientific ones that Trump and supporters like Sean Hannity are so fond of citing.
But as Colbert was quick to point out, much to Silver’s chagrin, there is one candidate he “got wrong” in the GOP primary: Donald Trump. “We had silly ideas and didn’t look at the polls,” Silver admitted. “The polls were pretty actually accurate in the GOP primary and had him ahead the whole way.”
“The problem is right now he has only about 38 percent of the vote, Clinton has about 45 percent of the vote,” he continued. “There are some undecideds left. I don’t think he did a good job of persuading them tonight.”
The big news of the night, of course, was Donald Trump’s refusal to say whether he will accept the results of the election in case he happens to come up short when all the votes are counted, a prospect Colbert found just as “horrifying” as Clinton did earlier in his show. So, does the great prognosticator Nate Silver think the election will be over on Nov. 8?
“Trump has occupied so much space in my head for a year and a half and a lot of Americans’ heads,” Silver said, predicting people might tell Trump to “be quiet” or “shut up” after Election Day. “People are so exhausted by this election,” he said.
“But he doesn’t generally respond to those requests,” Colbert remarked.