[If Silver's point is] that people saying that Cain has no chance should actually be saying he has “less than a 1% chance” — well, fine. But it’s just semantics, or maybe a criticism about imprecise writing.
But that’s not what bothers me about the article. The real problem is that Nate seems to more or less agree with the people who think Cain has no chance. He concedes that Cain’s chances might be “slim” and then suggests that “slim” might mean slightly less than two percent. In effect, Nate is doing exactly what he claims the analysts shouldn’t be doing: disregarding the polling numbers and putting the vast preponderance of the explanatory weight on the fundamentals, or their intuition. How else can you get the polling front-runner down to 2%? But if it’s “arrogant to say that the man leading in the polls two months before Iowa has no chance,” then it’s probably pretty arrogant to make him a 50 to 1 longshot.
Jonathan Bernstein basically agrees with Glassman.