Photo Credit: FiveThirtyEight.com
Who knew the statistical analysis of professional baseball could lead to someone becoming a top-tier political analyst? That's exactly the career path Nate Silver took on his way to creating FiveThirtyEight, one of the web's hottest destinations for news in the world of sports and politics.
Beginning as a statistician for Baseball Prospectus, Silver applied his knack for stats to the political field. He gained notoriety writing for DailyKos.com, a progressive political blog, under the name 'Poblano'.
As a writer for DailyKos, Silver noticed a significant amount of analysis was being done haphazardly, without the use of solid scientific data moving analysts towards their conclusions. In a move to establish a more grounded basis on how election results are predicted, he began FiveThirtyEight.com, where his predictions for the 2008 presidential primary got him major attention.
Silver's method of gathering info on the history of voting from other states and applying it to his prediction model made him stand out among his colleagues, whose guess based methodology made Silver's look all the more sophisticated.
The FiveThirtyEight model predicted Obama taking 859 delegates following Super Tuesday, with Clinton bringing in 829. The final came out to be Obama with 847 and Clinton with 834.
Silver's success was only just beginning. When the New York Times cited his statistical model as a source, FiveThirtyEight became a household name and was flooded with visitors.
"an anonymous blogger who writes under the pseudonym Poblano did something bold on his blog, FiveThirtyEight.com. He posted predictions for the upcoming primaries based not on polling data, but on a statistical model driven mostly by demographic and past vote data...."
Silver revealed his true identity soon after and has since written for Esquire, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. He's also developed statistical models for ESPN to predict the 2010 FIFA World Cup as well as a qualitative analysis of thew most livable neighborhoods in New York.
Since Silver's innovations, standard models for polling have been deemed by many to be obsolete while his fresh ideas on data collection and implementation brought in new era of political prediction.