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Math Trek

Scooping the political pollsters

Who will win the election in November? A technique from baseball stats may predict the answer.

9:52am, July 11, 2008

Nate Silver was bored. He’d graduated from the University of Chicago in economics and gone on to a typical consulting job, but it didn’t interest him much. Not as much as baseball, that’s for sure.

The job came with one nice perk, though: access to a cool, geeky statistics software package. It was just the thing for analyzing baseball data. Before long, Silver could use it to predict how good a baseball player’s season would be — and he could do it better than anyone else.

Silver’s method catapulted him into a new career as a hotshot baseball analyst. But his tendency to noodle around with side interests didn’t stop. He tackled a new game, politics. The result? Once again, he bettered all the old-timers.

He’d been tracking politics for a while, and questions kept popping up for him. Did Clinton really appeal more strongly to poorer voters? Did Obama have an advantage in caucus states as the pun

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