On election night, Nate Silver was right about nearly everything, says Stephanie Clifford in The New York Times. Silver, a 30-year-old statistics geek, is the Chicago-based creator of FiveThirtyEight.com, a blog on which he used a sophisticated blend of every poll available to forecast much of the 2008 election with uncanny accuracy. Silver correctly predicted that Barack Obama would win the popular vote over John McCain, 52 percent to 46 percent; he also called 49 of the 50 states’ results correctly. “From a marketing standpoint, I’d rather hedge a little bit more,” he says, “but we’re the ones who are bold enough to say what the polls translate into.” More than 5 million people visited his site on election night. Silver, a numbers wizard since he was a kid, started off using his talents to predict the performance of baseball teams and players. Silver turned to politics late last year after growing frustrated by prevailing poll analysis. “There is so much hyperventilation when a poll moves in one way or another,” he says. “People tend to look at polls that are outliers.” His methodology weights polls based on past accuracy and whether they tend to favor Republicans or Democrats. “It’s only when you take the polls into context,” he says, “that they tell you a story.”
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Here comes the Pentagon's newest space plane
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Did the media get Ferguson wrong?
- Extreme haunted houses: Inside Halloween's most terrifying new trend
- The U.S. is about to sell weapons to Vietnam. That's bad news for China.
- The real story behind Deliver Us From Evil
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 3 horrific inaccuracies in Homeland's depiction of Islamabad
- How did Rick Perry escape blame for the Texas Ebola outbreak?
Subscribe to the Week