By Katie White, features staff writer
Following in the long tradition of prophets such as Cassandra, Nostradamus, and Paul the Octopus, one of the hottest news stories this election cycle was the predictions of Nate Silver.
Silver is a statistician who is best known for his work in psephology, the scientific study of political elections.
Silver got his start in sabremetrics, the analysis of professional baseball players, with his development of the PECOTA (Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm) system that predicts the performance of Major League Baseball players.
His work in the political sphere began during the 2008 presidential election when he correctly predicted the winners of 49 states. He also accurately predicted all 35 Senate races.
However, he really started to gain widespread media attention after the New York Times picked up his blog in 2010.
Named “FiveThirtyEight” after the total number of Electoral College votes, the blog became immensely popular among online political commentators, especially after his shocking claim that President Barack Obama had a 91 percent chance of winning re-election.
Unsurprisingly, many conservative pundits immediately discounted the prediction with the counter-claim that Silver was simply biased against Gob. Mitt Romney and was using his fame to influence the election.
However, when it came down to it, Silver once again blew the critics away. For the 2012 presidential election, he accurately called all 50 states and the District of Columbia, not to mention 31 out of 33 senate races.
As some critics stress, it may be that we need to wait until Silver releases his model code to determine just how scientific his predictions are.
But until then, the record seems pretty clear that one way or another Silver can predict who will win the election.