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Key links:
Primary website:
fivethirtyeight.com
Primary Twitter:
@fivethirtyeight

Editor’s Note: Encyclo has not been regularly updated since August 2014, so information posted here is likely to be out of date and may be no longer accurate. It’s best used as a snapshot of the media landscape at that point in time.

FiveThirtyEight is an American political blog, written by Nate Silver and currently hosted by the New York Times, that analyzes polling data.

Originally, the site was launched anonymously in 2008 after Silver had been posting statistical poll analysis as an anonymous diarist at the liberal blog Daily Kos, beginning in late 2007. Silver revealed his identity in May 2008.

FiveThirtyEight grew quickly during the 2008 election runup, and Silver was acclaimed for remarkably accurate predictions of the 2008 presidential election results.

In August 2010, the New York Times’ began hosting Silver’s blog in an effort to “help New York Times readers cut through the clutter of this data-rich world.” It was rebranded as “FiveThirtyEight: Nate Silver’s Political Calculus”. The hosting was part of a three-year deal in which the Times licensed FiveThirtyEight’s content while also providing editorial guidance. Silver also contributes to the print edition of the Times as well as to the New York Times Magazine.

He has written with mixed feelings on the new Times paywall.

Silver, a baseball statistician, uses advanced statistical techniques and historical data to analyze poll data, including an election projection algorithm based on a baseball projection system he created.

Silver has said he started the site to fill in the gaps in data analysis and understanding among political journalists. During the 2008 election, his co-writer, Sean Quinn, supplemented Silver’s analysis with reporting on local campaign efforts. Currently a number of other statisticians, academics and other professionals contribute occasionally to the blog, which often reaches beyond politics into issues of public importance.

Peers, allies, & competitors:
Recent Nieman Lab coverage:
Nov. 8, 2022 / Nicholas Diakopoulos
There’s a 68 in 100 chance you’ll read this article about the audience for FiveThirtyEight-style election predictions — The midterm elections in the United States are today. Who’s leading, and who’s going to win? This is prime season for FiveThirtyEight, The Economist, and others to use their own election prediction systems to...
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Did the polls fail again? It’s complicated. — Four years ago, polls indicated that then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton would handily beat her Republican opponent, Donald J. Trump. Based on those polls, one prominent election forecaster, Princeton Un...
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To cover voting and all its “subplots” over the next three weeks, FiveThirtyEight turns to a “slower-than-usual liveblog” — From wild conspiracy theories to legitimate growing pains associated with implementing brand-new voting procedures, exactly how Americans will cast their ballots has become a major political story. FiveThirtyEight is pro...
Oct. 7, 2020 / Joshua Benton
Should news outlets stop making election forecasts based on polling data? — At this moment of great division in America, with tempers flaring and tensions high, let us gather together as a people, as a nation, and discuss the one thing we can all agree on: The Atlanta Falcons are hot garbage.1 I...
July 28, 2020 / Joshua Benton
This is how FiveThirtyEight is trying to build the right amount of uncertainty into its 2020 election data analysis — One of the more challenging things to represent in journalism is uncertainty. Walter Cronkite ended his newscasts with “That’s the way it is,” not “That is certainly one possible outcome, given a ...

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Primary author: Mark Coddington. Main text last updated: May 11, 2011.
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