News & Politics

Prognostication is a Lonely Business

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Some guy no one has ever heard of comes out of nowhere to predict, with uncanny accuracy, that Barack Obama will win the presidency.

No, we’re not talking about Nate Silver. You’ve probably heard of Nate, a statistics nerd who founded a website (fivethirtyeight.com) that analyzed and critiqued national political polls while predicting Obama’s win to amazing accuracy. Nate became famous overnight, became a staple on TV talk shows, and landed a book deal.

But this isn’t about Nate Silver. We’re talking about the other guy who called the election for Obama 18 months before it happened, a guy who remains as obscure now as he did when he made that prediction — and he’s not very happy about it.

His name is Daniel Bruno Sanz. Back in early 2007, Sanz, an investment
manager by profession, used something called econometrics — the use of
economic data to explain trends or forecast outcomes — to conclude
that Obama would win the presidential election.

At the time, Obama was 25 points down in the polls to our own Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.  But in his book, Why the Democrats Will Win in 2008, Sanz argued that the public opinion polls don’t really matter.

When
certain economic variables change drastically, he says, you can
forecast whether the incumbent party will hold on to the presidency —
especially when the sitting president is in his second term.

“What you get that sort of stew, the incumbent party will lose,” Sanz says.

But Sanz says he’s miffed because he’s not getting much respect for his prediction.

The
cable news shows will take just about anyone, won’t they? But they
haven’t been calling. Obama’s people don’t return his calls, even
though he volunteered for the campaign after his book came out. And
Clinton’s people? Forget about it.

“I took a big gamble, and
spent a lot of money producing it, and in spite of the fact that I’m
way ahead of these pundits, I don’t get any publicity,” he says. “The
Democrats wouldn’t look at me, even the Obama people snubbed me.”

Who knew self-publishing was such a bitch?

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