“There Are Not 5,000 People in America Who Know Who Nate Silver Is Without Prompting”

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 25 2014 8:55 AM

“There Are Not 5,000 People in America Who Know Who Nate Silver Is Without Prompting”

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Are you one of the 5,000 who knows who this Webby Award winner is?

Photo by Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images

My latest piece is a look at the Democratic campaign groups' new relationship with Nate Silver. Over the weekend he stated what most political reporters believe—at the moment, Republicans have at least a slight advantage in the race to win the Senate. There are just too many red states that have opened up and fallen away from the president's party. But when Silver said this, as opposed to Charlie Cook or some irritating Slate blogger saying it, Democrats pounced. Two reasons: Silver's well-earned aura of infallibility, Democrats' continued reliance on panic to raise money.

One disappointment, in reporting the piece, was my failure to get Dean "Unskewed Polls" Chambers on the line. My old contact info for the guy doesn't work; he no longer resides at the address where he published that site. But I did talk briefly over email to Stu Stevens, Romney's 2012 strategist, about whether Republicans failed to heed Silver in 2012.

"We looked at everything," wrote Stevens. "Read Nate's book. All this talk of Romney polls being off is odd. Look at last WSJ-NBC poll -- better than our polls." 

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Stevens added that he "respected" Nate Silver, but: "There are not 5,000 people in America who know who Nate Silver is without prompting." That's the thing—all 5,000 are likely Democratic donors.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.