- January 1, 2013: Vol. 7, Number 1

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Recovery in Sight?: What Would Nate Silver Say?

by Sheila Hopkins

In the United States, a geeky statistician who generally makes his living as a sports oddsmaker has risen to minor celebrity status with his oddsmaking performance during the months leading up to the US presidential election. Using an algorithm that essentially averaged the results of polls being taken within each state, then overlaying that average with modifications to account for the historical accuracy of the various polling agencies and the typical effects of outside forces on voter sentiment, Nate Silver correctly forecast which presidential candidate each state was going to vote for — and therefore who the winner of the election was going to be — months before the actual election. He would quibble with the characterisation that he “forecast” the outcome, preferring to point out he merely presented odds (Obama, a 71.2 percent chance of winning; Romney, a 28.8 percent chance of winni

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