Nate Silver is Wrong to Assert “Democrats Are Way More Obsessed With Impeachment Than Republicans”

In a post today, Nate Silver writes that “Democrats Are Way More Obsessed With Impeachment Than Republicans“.  He presents, as proof, a Nexis survey that shows that MSNBC uses the terms “impeach” and “impeachment” far more often than Fox News does.  He also presents a screenshot of emails from a democratic organization (the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, aka DCCC) fundraising off of impeachment.  That much is true.

His conclusion about democrats and republicans, though, is bullshit.  Junk science.

It’s true (I’ll trust Nate on this) that MSNBC talks about impeachment more than Fox News does.  And it’s true that there’s some fundraising going on here. But neither of those is proof — or even strong evidence — that democrats in general are way more obsessed than republicans.  In fact, there is equally strong evidence to the contrary. Look at the discussion, on Twitter, that is associated with the two networks Nate surveys. Far more people tweeting about Fox News have mentioned impeachment than folks tweeting to MSNBC:

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This has been true every month of this year: the number of mentions of impeachment by Fox News fans has far outpaced MSNBC fans.  Perhaps the MSNBC viewers are demonstrating their obsession only via quill and ink?

Personally, I’m not so reckless that I’d assume that MSNBC viewers are the same as all Democrats or that Fox News viewers are the same as all Republicans.  But I can certainly say that Fox News viewers seem more obsessed with impeachment than MSNBC viewers. And this is despite the MSNBC hosts apparently working harder to stir up “obsession”.

The truth about democrats and republicans, in general, is not illuminated by my statistics, and it is certainly not revealed by Nate’s Lexis-Nexis study of the hosts of cable news shows.  All we know from either is what a small, and not statistically valid, sampling of voices are talking about.  It could be that democrats are more obsessed.  It could be that republicans are.  Neither Nate nor I have presented any proof either way.  I don’t think either of us really knows.  But we do have our presumptions, it seems…

Come on Nate, you’re smarter than that: you’re resorting to the same kind of skewed sample sets that said Mitt was going to win in 2012.  And we’re smarter than that too: we know buzzfeed-esque click bait when we see it.