Nate Silver’s presidential forecasting model turned out to be fairly accurate

Jon Sofen
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Posted on: November 6, 2020 7:22 pm EST

Nate Silver, a former online poker pro, took some serious heat in 2016 because his polling model was off on the presidential election. Entering this year’s Election Day, many called for him to quit his job at FiveThirtyEight on the assumption that he would be wrong again. But it appears that he was, in fact, spot on with projecting Joe Biden to become the 46th President of the United States.

President Donald Trump (Republican) and Biden (Democrat) squared off Tuesday for the right to become the next president. The results, however, are still being calculated, as mail-in and absentee ballots were counted late.

On Election Day, throughout most of the evening, it appeared Trump was destined to claim re-election. He was pulling ahead in nearly every crucial swing state, with huge leads in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. But late in the night, things shifted the other way.

Trump went from a -775 heavy favorite at the online sportsbooks to a big underdog within a couple of hours. That’s because the mail-in ballots, and there were millions of them across the country, began being counted, and they heavily favored Biden.

In Pennsylvania, for example, although Trump led at one point on November 3 by as many as 700,000 votes, many anticipated the mail-in ballots would eventually put Biden over the hump.

Former poker pro sitting pretty

In 2016, Silver gave Donald Trump a 30% chance to beat former First Lady Hillary Clinton. After Trump won, the limit hold’em specialist took a verbal beating from Trump supporters for being wrong (even though he wasn’t technically wrong) and even some Democrats.

This time around, he gave Trump just a 12% chance at re-election. His Twitter feed was flooded with Trump supporters trash talking him, telling him he’s going to have to find a new line of work after his polling model at FiveThirtyEight is again wrong. They continued the harassment during Election Day when it appeared Trump was headed towards re-election.

But now it seems like Silver is the one who will get the last laugh. Biden appears to have the election locked up after mail-in ballots put him over the top in Georgia and Pennsylvania, and he’s pulling ahead in Nevada and Arizona. At this point, as of Friday morning, it appears Biden will have a minimum of 289 electoral votes. To win the election, a candidate needs to reach 270 electoral votes. And that doesn’t even include Biden’s likely wins in Nevada and Arizona, good for another 17 inevitably meaningless EC votes.

President Trump, however, doesn’t appear ready to concede anything. In fact, he may never do so. The former reality TV star has publicly accused the Democrat party of committing voter fraud but without evidence. He claims he won the election fair and square but illegal mail-in ballots at the last minute helped Biden secure a bogus victory. There is no evidence of this claim.

Biden hasn’t officially won the election, so Silver can’t gloat just yet. But with the former vice president taking over the leads in Pennsylvania and Georgia with only a few votes still to count, the path to re-election for Trump appears to be closing. Take a bow, Mr. Silver.

Featured image source: Flickr