FiveThirtyEight.com is the most interesting electoral stats site out there this campaign season, and it should be, given its author’s statistical pedigree. Nate Silver’s day job is in the rarefied world of baseball stats; he works for Baseball Prospectus, who, according to the linked story, have “a reputation in sports-media circles for being unfailingly rigorous, occasionally arrogant, and almost always correct.”
A little background:
The site earned some national recognition back in May, during the Democratic primaries, when almost every other commentator was celebrating Hillary Clinton’s resurgent momentum. Reading the polls, most pundits predicted she’d win Indiana by five points and noted she’d narrowed the gap with Obama in North Carolina to just eight.
Silver, who was writing anonymously as “Poblano” and receiving about 800 visits a day, disagreed with this consensus. He’d broken the numbers down demographically and come up with a much less encouraging outcome for Clinton: a two-point squeaker in Indiana, and a seventeen-point drubbing in North Carolina. On the night of the primaries, Clinton took Indiana by one and lost North Carolina by fifteen. The national pundits were doubly shocked: one, because the results were so divergent from the polls, and two, because some guy named after a chili pepper had predicted the outcome better than anyone else.
Silver and his colleagues, for example, were virtually alone in predicting that now-World Series bound Tampa would win 90 games this year.
Silver’s current projection is a 344 to 193 electoral vote victory for Obama, with 51.1% of the popular vote. Overall, he sees a 93.4% chance of an Obama victory. It changes slightly every day, as his models incorporate more and newer data.