President Barack Obama wasn’t the only person who won Tuesday night.
New York Times political statistician and FiveThirtyEight blogger Nate Silver celebrated his own victory: successfully predicting essentially all 50 states correctly, then seeing sales of his recent book, “The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail – but Some Don’t,” soar 850 percent on Amazon.
After climbing to No. 15 on Wednesday on Amazon.com, “The Signal and the Noise” rocketed to No. 2 after Silver correctly predicted the election results. The 544-page book published in September is second only to Jeff Kinney’s popular children’s book “The Third Wheel (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Book Seven).”
The victory is all the more significant considering Silver’s growing chorus of skeptics. Pundits like MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and the New York Times David Brooks were critical of Silver’s reliance on poll data, writes Politico. The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein described Silver’s methodology as “little more than a sophisticated form of poll aggregation.”
There were a lot of eyeballs watching Silver ahead of and into election night. In the days and hours prior to the election, roughly one in five NYT.com visitors visited Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog, which analyzes polling data to predict how many electoral votes each candidate will win. (The blog is named after the 538 total electoral votes.)
The result? Silver correctly predicted every state. (Though Florida votes are still being counted, Silver predicted the state would be very close, with a slight edge to Obama.)
Those interested in his electoral prediction would do well to check out “The Signal and the Noise,” in which Silver explains the art of prediction and outlines the methodology behind his system for determining everything from how well a major league baseball player will perform to who will win the presidency. (We listed Silver’s book as one of the “11 best books of September, according to Amazon.")
Being the mastermind statistician-soothsayer that he is, you’d think Nate Silver saw this coming.
Of course he did.
“I’m sure that I have a lot riding on the outcome,” Silver told Politico last month. “I’m also sure I’ll get too much credit if the prediction is right and too much blame if it is wrong.”
For now, Nate Silver and his “Signal and the Noise” gets our vote.
Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.