New York Times' Nate Silver Puts Romney's Chances at 'About 8 Percent'

On the morning of Election Day, the New York Times star poll forecaster Nate Silver forecast that Barack Obama had a 91.6% of retaining the presidency. His Tuesday morning post laid out the details: "Late Poll Gains for Obama Leave Romney With Longer Odds."

But the most recent set of polls suggest another problem for Mr. Romney, whose momentum in the polls stalled out in mid-October. Instead, it is President Obama who is making gains.

Among 12 national polls published on Monday, Mr. Obama led by an average of 1.6 percentage points. Perhaps more important is the trend in the surveys. On average, Mr. Obama gained 1.5 percentage points from the prior edition of the same polls, improving his standing in nine of the surveys while losing ground in just one.

Silver concluded:

All of this leaves Mr. Romney drawing to an inside straight. I hope you’ll excuse the cliché, but it’s appropriate here: in poker, making an inside straight requires you to catch one of 4 cards out of 48 remaining in the deck, the chances of which are about 8 percent. Those are now about Mr. Romney’s chances of winning the Electoral College, according to the FiveThirtyEight forecast.

As any poker player knows, those 8 percent chances do come up once in a while. If it happens this year, then a lot of polling firms will have to re-examine their assumptions — and we will have to re-examine ours about how trustworthy the polls are. But the odds are that Mr. Obama will win another term.

Silver told Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert Monday night: "It’s not a coin toss at that point. It’s close, but you’d have to have a case where the polls are off across the board. It could happen, but if anything the race has broken toward President Obama a bit in the last 48 hours or so."