In the lead up to Election Day, Nate Silver’s popular blog FiveThirtyEight emerged as a frequent destination for poll watchers as well as what developed to be a battle of math and science versus instinct and punditry. (Spoiler alert: math won.)
Until Tuesday, Nate Silver was sought out for one thing this year — polling predictions. But now the election is over, Silver is presumably resting on his laurels, and math has done an epic victory lap. Which allows us to move on to the next phase in politics … what exactly happened on Election Day and why?
Like many truths, those revealed by Nate Silver were neither sudden nor even, when it comes down to it, a shock. Instead, the models used over on the New York Times-owned property simply uncovered the numbers that were already there, waiting to be revealed. The die had been cast, and the result nearly predestined; Nate Silver and the actions of the electorate merely revealed what we already knew.
And today, Silver began to slice and dice the data collected on Election Day, the results that bore his predictions out in spectacularly accurate fashion — or as Rachel Maddow very succinctly put it:
“Nate Silver was not making up fake projections about the election to make conservatives feel bad. Nate Silver was doing math.”
In the first of what will hopefully be a look into why exactly Silver’s predictions bore out from a statistical perspective, he delves into how the numbers came to fall in a prediction so apparent mathematically. Ultimately, he says, it has to do with long-term demographic shifts in states that were historically considered unpredictably likely to swing.