Nate Silver is known not so much for predicting who will win elections, but for how close he comes to the actual results. His final 2012 forecast gave Obama 50.8 percent of the popular vote, almost identical with his eventual figure of 50.9 percent. This kind of precision is striking. ...Andrew Hacker, NYRB
From the earliest days of Nate Silver's 538 blog -- long before he joined the New York Times -- we Silver fans knew he could pull off amazing stunts, that he would be famous. He was just too far ahead of the curve for anyone else to match his uncanny ability with statistics.
Over the past year, his predictions for the 2012 election outcome fell into place. As a Silver fan, I found it hard to doubt him. A nervous nellie, though, I did wonder whether Obama could really pull it off and was dreading the actual outcome.
Silver got the numbers right and, as a bonus, Obama kept the White House. Andrew Hacker writes:
Nate Silver called every state correctly in the last presidential race, and was wrong about only one in 2008. In 2012 he predicted Obama’s total of the popular vote within one tenth of a percent of the actual figure. His powers of prediction seemed uncanny. In his early and sustained prediction of an Obama victory, he was ahead of most polling organizations and my fellow political scientists. But buyers of his book, The Signal and the Noise, now a deserved best seller, may be in for something of a surprise. There’s only a short chapter on predicting elections, briefer than ones on baseball, weather, and chess. In fact, he’s written a serious treatise about the craft of prediction—without academic mathematics—cheerily aimed at lay readers. Silver’s coverage is polymathic, ranging from poker and earthquakes to climate change and terrorism. ...Andrew Hacker, NYRB