20 Nov 2012

The man who got the US election right – on C4News tonight

Nate Silver is the man who predicted a 90.09 per cent certainty that Obama would win the US Presidential election is in the UK today and tonight appears on Channel 4 News.

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The algorithm – in disgrace for its misuse in the banking scandals surrounding the 2008 financial meltdown – is back. Mr Silver uses algorithms to sift polling information to draw his conclusions.

His track record is so good that his blog now consumes more than 20 per cent of the New York Time’s blog traffic.

But he got the UK General Election 210 badly wrong – predicting a Labour meltdown and a Liberal Democrat surge to 120 seats when in fact they lost a few seats on their pre-2010 numbers.

Questions for Nate Silver? Go ahead. He’s a fascinating phenomenon, and if he’s refined his systems he could render the age of the political pundit dead. Post any questions you’d like me to ask him.

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3 reader comments

  1. Rob's Uncle says:

    In the US round of the online Election Game http://www.electiongame.co.uk/, 11 out of 91 entries got all the electoral college results correct; another 9 got them all except Florida. Why is such a big fuss being made about Nat Silver doing the same?

    Or, if you prefer: Why is it so much harder to forecast the result of the UK General Election?

    [Actually this is well discussed on his blog but it will interest your viewers to hear it from him]

  2. e says:

    Our media owners and controllers have such fun. Their stock in trade is peddling misinformation alongside imagery of the young’s tits and bums, thus encouraging our second rate political bureaucrats to jump in tune with supposed public “opinion”. It’s a wonder. Can an algorithm act on the travesty? Can it discern considered opinion as opposed to the combined weight of those laughing at an amusing blond presenter skilfully sharing a partial vision?

  3. Philip Edwards says:


    Here’s mine:

    “Dear Nate – Using algorithms, can you please explain to the US government that terrorist invasions of other countries and theft of their natural resources will not prevent the collapse of capitalism anymore than it prevented the demise of all other similar rogue empires? I know this is a straightforward exercise and your government is unlikely to listen to you for a nanosecond, but it could make for a spiffy TV programme……..Yours, A Concerned Citizen.”

    Waddaya say, Jon? He got lucky with the Obama election and he might be tempted into it. After all, everyone believes every word coming out of the Old Grey Lady, the New York Times……Don’t they?

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