Nate Silver Proves 'Em Wrong by Getting Vote Right

New York Times Polling Geek Calls Election to Tee

Running the Table: Conspiracy theorists claimed New York Times poll guru Nate Silver was in the tank for President Obama. He shut them up with a sterling Election Day predicition.
getty images
Running the Table: Conspiracy theorists claimed New York Times poll guru Nate Silver was in the tank for President Obama. He shut them up with a sterling Election Day predicition.

By Reuters

Published November 07, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 3)

Sales of his recent book, “The Signal and the Noise,” jumped 500 percent on Wednesday to reach the No. 2 book on Amazon.com, just behind the latest in the children’s “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” franchise.

A NERDY SCHTICK

Unlike traditional pollsters, who put questions to a field of voters, Silver incorporates the averages of several polls and weights them based on factors like the past accuracy of the polling firm, the number of likely voters on Election Day and the composition of each state’s electorate. He then runs multiple simulations of the results, which results in his probability forecast.

The end result often mirrors other aggregate data that is available. Real Clear Politics and Pollster.com, for instance, also showed that Obama held an advantage in all of the swing states except North Carolina. Yet Silver’s probability simulations as well as his status as, essentially, a one-man shop, has helped burnish his image and reputation, especially in light of the performance of traditional polling firms.

Rasmussen Reports, for instance, was wrong on six of the nine swing-state polls and showed Romney winning the popular vote by one percentage point. The NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist College poll incorrectly predicted that Obama would win North Carolina, while the CBS/Quinnipiac University poll incorrectly showed Obama losing Colorado.

Silver’s track record in the 2008 election led Penguin Books to sign him to a two-book deal worth more than $700,000, according to a person with knowledge of the deal. The New York Times reached a license agreement with Silver to host his blog through at least the 2012 election.

At the Times, Silver has branched out from politics to include more day-to-day topics, including a post that investigated whether KFC’s Double Down Sandwich was the unhealthiest sandwich ever. But it is his electoral predictions that have paid dividends: on the day before the election, 20 percent of all visitors to the Times website clicked on a 538 post, according to press reports.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • The rose petals have settled, and Andi has made her (Jewish?) choice. We look back on the #Bachelorette finale:
  • "Despite the great pain and sadness surrounding a captured soldier, this should not shape the face of this particular conflict – not in making concessions and not in negotiations, not in sobering assessments of this operation’s achievements or the need to either retreat or move forward." Do you agree?
  • Why genocide is always wrong, period. And the fact that some are talking about it shows just how much damage the war in Gaza has already done.
  • Construction workers found a 75-year-old deli sign behind a closing Harlem bodega earlier this month. Should it be preserved?
  • "The painful irony in Israel’s current dilemma is that it has been here before." Read J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis of the conflict:
  • Law professor Dan Markel waited a shocking 19 minutes for an ambulance as he lay dying after being ambushed in his driveway. Read the stunning 911 transcript as neighbor pleaded for help.
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.