each state's electorate. He then runs multiple simulations of the results, which results in his probability forecast.
The end result often mirrors other aggregate data that is available. Real Clear Politics and Pollster.com, for instance, also showed that Obama held an advantage in all of the swing states except North Carolina. Yet Silver's probability simulations as well as his status as, essentially, a one-man shop, has helped burnish his image and reputation, especially in light of the performance of traditional polling firms.
Rasmussen Reports, for instance, was wrong on six of the nine swing-state polls and showed Romney winning the popular vote by one percentage point. The NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist College poll incorrectly predicted that Obama would win North Carolina, while the CBS/Quinnipiac University poll incorrectly showed Obama losing Colorado.
Silver's track record in the 2008 election led Penguin Books to sign him to a two-book deal worth more than $700,000, according to a person with knowledge of the deal. The New York Times reached a license agreement with Silver to host his blog through at least the 2012 election.
At the Times, Silver has branched out from politics to include more day-to-day topics, including a post that investigated whether KFC's Double Down Sandwich was the unhealthiest sandwich ever. But it is his electoral predictions that have paid dividends: on the day before the election, 20 percent of all visitors to the Times website clicked on a 538 post, according to press reports.
Silver's status as the electoral sage has led him to be courted throughout the business and media worlds. He's at a level about four times as high as I am, said Jack Bogle, founder of investment-management company the Vanguard Group.
The understated Silver is not especially social and definitely not schmoozy, says Colby Hall, the founding editor of Mediaite.com, which tracks media news. Like many Silver fans, Hall has been trying to cultivate a relationship with Silver with several years, with no luck.
He relies on his track record, Hall says. The nerdy shtick works in Silver's favor. If Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are falling over themselves to talk to you, you are in the hippest/coolest/most-insidery group, Hall says.
Even so, Silver's methods have been criticized by political pundits, who detected a Democratic slant in his results, leading some to come up with so-called unskewed polls that showed Republicans winning handily.
Politico, a hub of news for D.C. wonks, skewered him