Dean “Unskewed Polls” Chambers: I Was Wrong, Nate Silver Was Right

I was wondering whether we’d hear from the guy behind given last night’s results. His website hasn’t been updated since yesterday and he hasn’t posted anything at his site. However, he did give an interview to BBrett LoGiurato at Business Insider:

 Dean Chambers, the man who garnered praise from the right and notoriety on the left for his “Unskewed Polling” site, admitted today that his method was flawed.

“Nate Silver was right, and I was wrong,” Chambers said in a phone interview.

Chambers’ method of “unskewing” polls involved re-weighting the sample to match what he believed the electorate would look like, in terms of party identification. He thought the electorate would lean more Republican when mainstream pollsters routinely found samples that leaned Democratic.

But as it turned out, the pollsters were right — self-identified Democrats outnumbered Republicans by 6% in election exit polls.

“I think it was much more in the Democratic direction than most people predicted,” Chambers said. “But those assumptions — my assumptions — were wrong.”


He actually thinks conservative-leaning pollsters like Scott Rasmussen have a lot more explaining to do.

“He has lost a lot of credibility, as far as I’m concerned,” Chambers said. “He did a lot of surveys. A lot of those surveys were wrong.”

I have to admit that I’ll give the guy some credit for admitting an error and not trying to paper it over, although it is worth noting that he made a major change in his Electoral College projection over the course of just four days. The comments about Rasmussen are also interesting. I wonder if others on the right will feel the same way. Rasmussen’s polling was way off, we’ll have to wait until Nate Silver does his Pollster Rankings to see how far off, but he was clearly didn’t reach the level of accuracy he achieved in 2008. But that what happens when you tailor the presumptions behind your polls to please your customers.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Notice he didn’t explain his “effeminate man” quips.

  2. An Interested Party says:

    Obviously “the very small statured thin effeminate man with a soft- sounding voice” is far more credible than the fat blowhard hack…

  3. C. Clavin says:

    Where is Jan????

  4. Jr says:

    Yeah, Rasmussen is an absolutely joke.

    Their party ID registration in October had GOP +5, which is so far off. There was no chance in hell the electorate was going to be that old and white.

  5. I give him credit for admitting he was wrong and for calling our Rasmussen.

    Anyone seen Smooth Jazz?

  6. Console says:

    Part of the problem was that rasmussen had that zombie lie that showed them as the best pollster in 08 when really they were like the 6th best after all the votes had been counted. Maybe now, that zombie lie will die.

  7. Jr says:


    Yeah, they weren’t that good in 2008.

    If you actually look at the state polling, they were pretty off (ex. they had OH tied, but Obama won it by 5). They were even worse in 2010 and they may be the worst pollster in 2012 after Silver does his analysis on accuracy.

  8. stonetools says:

    Kudos for him admitting he was wrong. Better than Doug and Benghazi…

  9. mattb says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Anyone seen Smooth Jazz?

    Been thinking the exact same thing.

    I will give one more thing to Chamber’s, his explanation was far more genuine and honest than the one that good ‘ol Dick Morris issued (which included blaming Chris Christie for making him wrong). I’m still wrapping my head around Michael Barone’s explanation.

    That said, while he might get credit for saying Silver was right, Chambers has still not apologized for all the personal attacks on Silver he made as part of that odious editorial.

    Way to stay classy Chambers.

  10. Steven,

    This is true. I’m not sure the reporter asked him about that

  11. Geek, Esq. says:

    Rasmussen, Mason-Dixon, and Suffolk were the three biggest losers.

    Rasmussen’s methodology of weighting by party was shown to be a farce, as were all of his polls. PPP beat him in every single state, despite both being partisan robopollers. If you’re a Republican and want to know the actual leanings of a state, you’d hire PPP over Rasmussen.

    Mason-Dixon had Romney leading Obama in Florida by twice (+6) what Obama was leading Romney in Minnesota (+3). Final results were Obama +1 in Florida and Obama +8 in Minnesota.

    In early October, Suffolk pulled the plug in North Carolina, Florida, and Virginia–claiming that Romney had them locked up because Obama was too far below 50%–even though those polls showed him LEADING in Florida and Virginia.

  12. Jr says:

    Mason-Dixon missing FL is pretty surprising.

    We all know Rasmussen sucks, but Mason-Dixon generally polls FL pretty well. To miss it by 5 points is pretty remarkable.

  13. wr says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Even Dick Morris admitted he was wrong. He said he didn’t believe that the electorate would look like 2008, that Obama’s first victory was a once-in-a-lifetime thing, and that America would revert to it’s old self again, as it seemed to in 2010. But now, he concedes, this is the new face of the American electorate and the Republicans better find a way to adjust to it. Sounded like the first shot in a civil war to me — but surprisingly mature and self-aware for Morris.

    And speaking of mature and self-aware, I sure do wonder why we haven’t heard from Jan, Bit, Drew and Smoovie today. At least Jaynos showed up to spew some argle-bargle about Obummer using Fast and Furious to smuggle guns to kill Americans in Benghazi, or whatever he’s going to live off of for the next four years…

  14. @wr: Good for Morris, although he inability to understand that one cannot compare turnout in a mid-term to turnout in a presidential year does not speak well to his understanding of some pretty basic stuff.

  15. Geek, Esq. says:


    Mason-Dixon has trouble polling racial minorities.

    In 2004, not such a problem. In 2012, fatal.

  16. Geek, Esq. says:


    Also, M/D didn’t miss FL by 5. They missed it by 7. They had Romney +6, it was Obama +1.

    Their mid-October poll had Romney +7.

    Why were they off? They showed a roughly 50/50 split in the Latino vote. Which instantly discredited it.

  17. Geek, Esq. says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Well, he predicted a Romney “landslide” of 323 EVs but then downplayed Obama’s winning of the same margins as W Bush won in 2004 and 332 EVs as a “squeaker.”

  18. Franklin says:

    Interesting. This mea culpa suggests that he actually believed what he wrote.

  19. wr says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Well, yeah. I’m not claiming that the author of the famous Hillary Condi Smackdown book is suddenly brilliant, but there must have been a time before he became a Fox whore that he had some political insights or ability. Maybe he had a little flashback yesterday…

  20. KariQ says:

    I’d looked through Rasmussen’s state polling in 2008 and 2010 and found that in every close race, Rasmussen was 2-4 points too GOP. Every single one. I haven’t double checked this year, but it looked like they were likely to maintain that 2-4 point GOP bias. I still love Rasmussen, because he really does give an excellent picture of how things look – 3 points better for the Democrats than he claims.

  21. mattb says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Sorry. No bully for Morris.

    His explanation was largely a dodge filled with gobbledy gook and weasel words. He essentially said that he disbelieved the polls simply because he was sure that (a) 2008 was an anomaly, (b) that all posters are biased towards liberals, and (c) he refused to believe that many brown people would actually show up and vote, and finally (d) it was also the fault of Chris Christie and Hurricane Sandy.

  22. @mattb: Gotcha. And yes, Sandy (and Christie) will be receiving a lot of blame.

  23. mattb says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Yup… btw, here’s the actual quote from Dick Morris on this (it’s pretty snort worthy):

    The key reason for my bum prediction is that I mistakenly believed that the 2008 surge in black, Latino, and young voter turnout would recede in 2012 to “normal” levels. Didn’t happen. These high levels of minority and young voter participation are here to stay. And, with them, a permanent reshaping of our nation’s politics.

    In 2012, 13% of the vote was cast by blacks. In 04, it was 11%. This year, 10% was Latino. In ’04 it was 8%. This time, 19% was cast by voters under 30 years of age. In ’04 it was 17%. Taken together, these results swelled the ranks of Obama’s three-tiered base by five to six points, accounting fully for his victory.

    I derided the media polls for their assumption of what did, in fact happen: That blacks, Latinos, and young people would show up in the same numbers as they had in 2008. I was wrong. They did.

    But the more proximate cause of my error was that I did not take full account of the impact of hurricane Sandy and of Governor Chris Christie’s bipartisan march through New Jersey arm in arm with President Obama. Not to mention Christe’s fawning promotion of Obama’s presidential leadership.

  24. @mattb: Snort-worthy, indeed.

  25. mattb says:

    BTW, Chamber’s mea culpa article for should be nominated from an “understatement of the year” award:

    Chambers: is just one web site and one project I did, and depending on your point of view it was proven wrong

    [mb: emphasis mine]

    I really have to remember “depending on your point of view” line for the next time I run into trouble on something.

  26. Franklin says:

    @mattb: Heh. Depending on your point of view, Hurricane Sandy was a bad storm.

  27. Kylopod says:

    The thing about Morris is that any apology he makes now is too little, too late. He’s been wrong so many times throughout his career that Andrew Sullivan was right to rename his bad-predictions award after him (who the hell is Von Hoffmann?), and if Morris possessed an ounce of integrity he’d refrain from ever trying to predict the future again, because he just plain sucks at it. It’s just that the bad predictions of conservative punditry in this race was such a high-profile blunder they had little choice but to acknowledge their error. They rarely are forced into that situation, which is why they usually get away with being proven wrong again and again and again–nobody bothers to call them out on it. (Nobody they have to answer to, anyway.) Perhaps Nate Silver had a hand in this, by shining a light on the subject while inspiring them to foolishly wage war against him.

  28. jukeboxgrad says:

    Anyone seen Smooth Jazz?

    Lots of our dear friends are suddenly MIA. What about Florack? I’m sure he’s eager to explain what he said on 10/21:

    Obama has lost re-election. The only question remaining is how large a victory Romney is headed for.

  29. jukeboxgrad says:


    I’d looked through Rasmussen’s state polling in 2008 and 2010 and found that in every close race, Rasmussen was 2-4 points too GOP.

    I looked pretty carefully at some of his numbers for 2012 and 2008 and found pretty much the same thing. Link.

  30. Tillman says:

    “…but I don’t take back any of that effeminate stuff. I mean, just look at him. Girly. That’s the one call I made right this whole cycle.”

  31. Barry says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: “Good for Morris, although he inability to understand that one cannot compare turnout in a mid-term to turnout in a presidential year does not speak well to his understanding of some pretty basic stuff. ”

    He wasn’t unable, he was lying. He could not physically have participated in national politics as he did and not understood that. And he’s lived that, going through 1992-4-6.

    And I’ll believe his apology if and only if it doesn’t evaporate over the next few weeks. Which I think that it will, or he’ll find himself looking for honest work.

  32. @Barry: I was trying to be charitable, but that is a bad idea where Morris is concerned. Having read the quote above and having seen clips of his “apology” I must confess he deserves no credit.

  33. Anyone who thinks Nate Silver is an “effeminate man with a soft- sounding voice” needs to visit more gay bars.

  34. jukeboxgrad says:

    You are so right. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.