Back in May, I blogged about a great new political website FiveThirtyEight.com. In the months leading up to last week’s historic election, it became one of the most popular sites for political junkies like me. Nate Silver, and later his fellow blogger Sean Quinn, did an absolutely outstanding job aggregating data from all the polls and putting it through their ‘black box’ of regression analysis and God knows what else, in NEAR REAL TIME. By state analysis. Electoral Vote win percentages. Popular Vote projections. FiveThirtyEight.com helped me keep my sanity as we got closer and closer to the election.
And beyond the number crunching, which in itself was incredibly fascinating and generally reassuring to us Barack supporters, these guys went out in the field, driving over 10,000 miles, to visit (and photograph with the help of Brett Marty) both the McCain and Obama ground games. The disparity was startling (McCain offices were often empty of people or simply closed, the Obama offices were vibrant and electric, with an amazing cross-section of multi-ethnic, multi-generation supporters). I get choked up just reliving this as I type this. There was nothing like this going on anywhere else in the media, which in retrospect, was crazy. The ground game turned out to be huge, and FiveThirtyEight.com was really the only place that really got out there and recorded it on film and by regularly reporting on it.
Nate slam-dunked the the projections. He analysis, in a word, was FANTASTIC. When you go state-by-state, it’s just incredible how close his projections were to the actual vote. Within 1% or right on the money in close states like FL, MO, NH, OH, PA. Some of the redder states ended up more red than he projected and the bluer states ended up more blue than he thought, but with the close ones, he was on it. Now mind you, going into this I was nervous about supposed 'tightening’ and uncertainty about whether kids would show up, the impact on early voting, etc.. I believed you, Nate, but I’ve seen the prize get snatched away before. But in retrospect, Nate had it all figured out. Amazing.
Nate, if you do this again next election, I will worry much, much less about whether you are 99% or 70% accurate.
You even had Virginia, my home state, nailed for a 5.6% Obama margin win.
Thank you, Nate Silver, for what you did, and keeping the analysis flowing in a way that put all the major news networks to shame. Best wishes for your next big gig; my hunch is that it will be very impressive.