Looks like Nate Silver’s predictions were spot on again:
In the end, big data won.
Not the presidential election — although there’s no doubt that President Obama’s victory tonight was aided by a sophisticated understanding of the American electorate born of years of analysis of voting trends and demographic shifts.
No, big data — and its patron saint, Nate Silver — won the battle to predict the outcome of the contest between Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Where breathless pundits brandishing equivocating polls shouted from the rooftops over the last few weeks that the race for the White House was a “tossup,” or “too close to call,” Silver and other poll aggregators sat back and calmly told anyone who would listen that the math told another story: Obama’s re-election was never in danger.
To be sure, after the president’s dismal performance in last month’s first debate against Romney, his prospects dimmed somewhat. But those who regularly visited Silver’s New York Times-hosted FiveThirtyEight blog — and there’s no getting around it: many Democrats lived on the site throughout the fall — knew that Silver never pegged Obama’s chances of victory at less than 61.1 percent.
To those unfamiliar with the notion of poll aggregation and more accustomed to gleaning their perceptions of the trajectory of presidential elections by following venerable polling organizations like Gallup, Silver’s numbers never made any sense. With a wide variety of polls showing Obama struggling, and often trailing Romney nationally, how could someone who’d never even run a poll credibly tell the world that the president was actually comfortably ahead?