There was an uproar when Mitt Romney bet Rick Perry $10,000 about his position on the individual mandate. Days before the election, Nate Silver is getting into the betting business, too: Yesterday he bet Joe Scarborough, who has been a skeptic of Silver’s secret statistical sauce, $1,000, then $2,000, in the form of a donation to the Red Cross, over whether President Obama will win Tuesday’s election.
That did not please the Times’ public editor, Margaret Sullivan, who writes:
Whatever the motivation behind it, the wager offer is a bad idea — giving ammunition to the critics who want to paint Mr. Silver as a partisan who is trying to sway the outcome.
It’s also inappropriate for a Times journalist, which is how Mr. Silver is seen by the public even though he’s not a regular staff member.
Silver has already declared himself a partisan who is openly rooting for the president’s reelection. That aside, the highlight of Sullivan’s piece was her assertion that Silver is “probably (and please know that I use the p-word loosely) its most high-profile writer at this particular moment.” Silver gives Obama an 80.9 percent chance of winning, so depending on what happens Tuesday, that may change quickly.