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Nate Silver: How The New York Times' Election Blogger Became Hollywood's Xanax

Presidential Debate Lynn University Obama Laughing - H 2012
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Barack Obama and Mitt Romney

The FiveThirtyEight blog is all the rage in town, from Twitter posts to the cocktail circuit -- Michelle Pfeiffer says "I'm hanging on every word."

This story first appeared in the Nov. 9 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

In democratic Hollywood, the only calming agent more popular than Xanax is Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog on The New York Times website.

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Amid polls suggesting Mitt Romney has tied Barack Obama or taken the lead, Silver’s numbers coolly continue to predict that in 72.9 percent of simulations, the president will win both the popular vote (narrowly) and the electoral college (substantially).

“My advice for stability and sanity: Just read the 538 blog,” Obama supporter John Legend wrote on Twitter as the race tightened.

Salman Rushdie agreed: “Consistently best analysis of US election.”

Silver, a 34-year-old economist and statistician who first made his mark with a computer model that predicts baseball player performance, turned to politics in 2007 with a model that relies on state-by-state polling.

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In 2008, he accurately predicted the presidential result in 49 of the 50 states and in all 35 U.S. Senate races, giving him soothing credibility with Hollywood faithful. “There’s a blog that shows Obama winning?” Michelle Pfeiffer asked when told about the site. “Then I’m reading it every day. I’m hanging on every word.”