Political polling guru Nate Silver is so confident in his statistical models that he just offered to bet MSNBC's Joe Scarborough $1,000 that Barack Obama will win re-election. Scarborough, you may recall, criticized Silver's math earlier this week, saying that "Anybody that thinks that this race is anything but a tossup right now is such an ideologue ... they're jokes." He was specifically talking about Silver's FiveThirtyEight website, which shows Mitt Romney with just a 1-in-4 chance of becoming president.
Silver has spent the week firing back, criticizing political pundits for not understanding how odds and probability work and aggressively defending his method against critics. As the week has progressed, his model has only shown Obama's chances of winning increasing, which has not coincidentally increased Silver's confidence in the outcome. (As of this morning, Five Thirty Eight gives Obama a 79 percent chance of winning, with a final Electoral College total over 300.)
The back-and-forth swipes all came to head today with this tweet, with Silver offering a friendly $1,000 wager on Tuesday's result, with the winnings going to charity.
.@joenbc: If you think it's a toss-up, let's bet. If Obama wins, you donate $1,000 to the American Red Cross. If Romney wins, I do. Deal?— Nate Silver (@fivethirtyeight) November 1, 2012
After that Politico story claiming Silver was putting his reputation on the line with this election, he's making it clear that he's willing to put more on the line than that. And he's also clearly fed up with pundits who aren't willing to put anything on the line to back up their numerous predictions.
Scarborough was not on the set of his MSNBC show this morning and has yet to respond, but he already has one wager riding on Tuesday's vote. Just yesterday, he agreed to a bet with Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod over their facial hair. (Axelrod will shave his mustache if Obama loses Michigan, Minnesota, or Pennsylvania. Scarborough will grow one if Romney loses Florida or North Carolina.) Will Joe put his money where his mouth—and mustache—is?
UPDATE: Scarborough has responded by suggesting they both donate $1,000 to the Red Cross right now. Silver's response? Let's raise the stakes!