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November 2, 2012

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Nate Silver and 538

by Anne Paddock

Four years ago, Nate Silver created “538 dot com” or “538” – a blog that applies mathematical models/statistical analysis to predict election results. Frustrated with the lack of quantitative methods in polling data and prediction models reported in the media, Silver used his math skills to analyze polls and predictors for their size and historical margin of error and make his own predictions.  His results were astounding with an accurate prediction in the Democratic primary in March, 2008 (Obama) followed by the Presidential election (in 49 out of the 50 states) and the winner of every 2008 US Senate race. Since the 2008 election, Silver has continued his success and has a proven track record for predicting who our elected officials will be.

Silver has been called a “number crunching prodigy” and although critics and detractors have been vocal, it’s hard to argue with mathematics and more importantly, success. Born in 1978, Silver graduated from the University of Chicago in 2000 and then took a job with KPMG.  In 2003, Silver in pursuing his passion for baseball, took a job with Baseball Prospectus writing about player and team performance using mathematical models. Using historical and current season data, Silver was so accurate in predicting pitcher performance and team championships that he decided to apply the same methods to politics.

In 2008, Silver created http://www.fivethirtyeight.com based on the number of electoral votes in the US Electoral College. After the accurate predictions made in 2008, many media outlets made offers to buy the site. Silver recognized the benefits of having a large corporate media outlet but was reluctant to give up control of his blog; understandably so since the success of the blog depends on accuracy – his strong skill set. He struck a deal with the New York Times where the blog would be hosted for three years by the Times – ensuring he could maintain his voice and control over the content of the blog while using the Times to edit the content and provide technical assistance.

There is no better website to predict political outcomes than www.fivethirtyeight.com. The updates are done daily and cover elections at both the state and federal level.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Nov 5 2012

    it seems scary to me he hasnt come out with a report in three days .this is one scary election.

  2. Nov 5 2012

    Check the website again as he has come out with projections yesterday and today.

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