Nate Silver vs. Pundits: Times' Blogger Sweeps, Republican Commentators Fall Short

Nate Silver Colbert Report - H 2012
Comedy Central

Nate Silver Colbert Report - H 2012

The N.Y. Times' stat guru proved on the money with his prognostications, providing a mathematical retort to talking heads who slammed his pre-election work.

In the campaign of pundits versus stat geeks, it's now safe to project Nate Silver as the clear winner.

The New York Times statistician gained a cult following for his on-point 2008 presidential election predictions, nailing 49 of 50 states, and while the world of columnists and cable news talkers pooh-poohed his work in this campaign, he looks likely to have correctly predicted the electoral college winner in all 50 states. 

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As of Wednesday morning, Florida and Nevada had yet to declare the winner of their electoral votes, but the evidence points toward victories for President Obama, just as Silver predicted. And if they indeed stay the course and declare for the president, it will give Silver sweet bragging rights -- and a cool $2,000 -- when he next speaks to the hosts and frequent opiners of cable news networks and opinion journals.

For the most part, Republican-aligned pundits predicted that Mitt Romney would win the election and win it big. Dick Morris, of the New York Post and Fox News, is receiving ridicule for guaranteeing that Romney would take 325 electoral votes, as is George Will for his projection of 321. Dean Chambers, of unSkewed Polls, a site that purported to take the bias out of the polls that Silver used to make his statistical models and projections, offered the only slightly less incorrect vision of 311 Romney electoral votes.

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Ann Coulter thought it'd be a tight race, predicting a squeaker Romney win with 273 electors. Newt Gingrich gave the GOP candidate, his one-time rival, 300 votes in his prediction but did admit his error Wednesday on CNN.

"I think that the country was looking at a different set of things than we were looking, and I think Republicans are going to have to take a very serious look at what happened, and why did it happen, and why were we not more competitive at the presidential level," he said.

Silver, who famously bet with MSNBC host Joe Scarborough that Obama would win, will likely now not have to choose between Ebola and Pundits, as he joked about on The Colbert Report on Monday. But he probably will sell a lot of copies of his book, The Signal and the Noise, which he promoted on his Twitter feed Tuesday night, joking, "This is probably a good time to link to my book."