1. Breakout Star Of The Election Season

You don’t have to be running to win. You don’t have to be number one. Concentrate on being a member of the scene and surviving.

2. Paid His Dues

We’re so used to here today, gone tomorrow. Young people thrust into the spotlight who then disappear. Rebecca Black left high school to be home-schooled. College is seen as anathema to success. But those who last tend to have paid dues far from the spotlight for a long time. It’s what they did when no one was paying attention that counts. The seasoning. Whether it be reading books, listening to music, studying economics… If you’ve got no background, you’ll be exposed as being two-dimensional very soon.

3. Transferable Skills

My inbox is littered with the career questions of those who can no longer work in the music business. They say they’re stuck, there’s nothing else they can do. I always point them to the wisdom of “What Color Is Your Parachute,” the career bible. Richard Bolles speaks of transferable skills. Nate Silver started off in baseball statistics. It was an easy, but unforeseeable to most, switch to polling.

4. Established Players Hate Newcomers

If you think kissing the ass of established players is the road to success, you’re sorely mistaken. You know you’re on the right path when those in power are excoriating you, as so many did to Mr. Silver. It’s almost impossible to get the attention of bigwigs. If they’re coming down off their roost to confront you…you know you’re winning. If you’re just a sailor, taking orders, you’re going to go down with the ship.

5. Opportunity

It doesn’t come from marketing, but getting it right. Nothing markets you better than excellence.

6. Nerdom

There’s been a war on intelligence in the U.S. Education too. But to watch Nate Silver in action is to love him. Because he doesn’t primp for the camera, he was on Bill Maher with a bad shave. He wasn’t media-trained. He was like that guy next door you grew up with, maybe played with when you were in single digits, but were never best friends with. But you’re on board with him as an adult, because you know he paid his dues, that this is really who he is.

7. Methodology

There’s an outcry that “Billboard” has changed its charts. By hewing to the old model, you’re just ripe to be overrun by he who develops the new. People criticized Silver’s methodology incessantly. But it was he who turned out to be most right.

8. Track Record

Republicans forget that it was Silver who said they were going to triumph in 2010. People like those who are beholden only to themselves, who call it as they see it as opposed to playing team ball. Today’s media superstars, the ones we’re enraptured by, are not team players, they’re loners, outliers. To the degree people are angry with them, it’s because these winners did not follow the safe path, did not do what was expedient, like the haters.

9. Publicity

Nate Silver’s reputation was built online, surfer by surfer, year by year. You think it’s all about the big time media performance. Getting on late night TV, on the radio. Mainstream media opportunities mean less than ever before. Furthermore, the audience is sophisticated, people know they’re being manipulated. I heard about Silver from my friend who follows politics religiously for years before I started paying attention. We take our cues from those who are deeply invested in a topic, like my friend. The information may sit there for years, until a trigger comes along and we too get on the bandwagon. I kept hearing about the “FiveThirtyEight” blog. And when I saw the link on the homepage of the “New York Times,” the bell went off. I read Mr. Silver and became a convert. I respect the nerds, they’re going to inherit the earth.

10. Selling Out

Yes, Mr. Silver is now aligned with the “New York Times.” But he paid his dues solo, and the news outlet came to him. Stop pitching and start fielding. If you’re excellent, people will find you. Furthermore, Mr. Silver has become bigger than the “Times” itself. Last week, 71% of visits to political sites at the “Times” included a stop at Silver’s blog. Furthermore, 13% of all visits to the “Times” last week, the number six news site in the U.S., were to Silver’s blog. The day before the election, it was 20%. (http://bit.ly/RDFWQI) Talent has power. Individuals can rise to the top seemingly instantly. The corporation is not king in this world where everybody can start themselves online. If you’re not making it, you haven’t paid your dues and/or you’re just not good enough.

11. Gay

Mr. Silver is. It’s rarely trumpeted. We now live in a post-gay era. As Chris Rock says, everybody’s got a relative who swings the other way. If you’re a hater, get over it. Just like Ms. replaced Miss, the tide has turned, gays have a seat at the table. Not that there isn’t work to be done educating the naysayers.

12. You Can Win

But you’ve got to want it. You’ve got to be willing to follow the road less traveled. You can’t take what you read at face value. You’ve got to be unique. You’ve got to be so outside they won’t let you on the reality TV show. You’ve got to be everything great about America – self-motivated, with a winning attitude, willing to do the hard work.



Source: @cosentino



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Category: Data Analysis, Mathematics, Politics

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36 Responses to “Nate Silver and the Lessons of 2012”

  1. Uchicagoman says:

    I tip my hat to him, he nailed it!

  2. MidlifeNocrisis says:

    As a long time follower of Nates work, he’s the best (in my opinion). He does it without “spin”.

  3. Dan says:

    Thank you for sharing this post. I must also tip my hat to Nate Silver; he nailed it with stellar methodology and data analysis.

  4. [...] – Nate Silver and the lessons of 2012. [...]

  5. crankitto11 says:

    God bless scientifically guided, data driven inquiry. God bless Nate Silver. Take a victory lap, Nate!

  6. drewburn says:

    Silver did an awesome job!

  7. [...] versus the bloviating punditry is for me, the single most dramatic storyline of the election.  Nate Silver showed data, logical reasoning and mathematics outperform “gut feel” and [...]

  8. Moopheus says:

    Nerddom has two d’s.

  9. number2son says:

    I was 90% sure he’d be right.

  10. number2son says:

    Oh, and on item no. 11 … another encouraging outcome last night was that Wisconsin elected our nation’s first openly lesbian Senator. Baby steps, America.

  11. Julia Chestnut says:

    I love Nate Silver not just because he’s proven repeatedly that his statistical analysis is top notch, but he also works hard to educate readers about what is and is not solid statistical analysis and has spent a lot of digital ink pointing out lies – from “polling” companies that make up numbers to the underpinnings of a predictable bias in some polling outfits. If we’re going to get anywhere in this country, it will have to include working to understand the firehose of information (of highly questionable content) getting sent our way and developing more sophisticated filters for working out whom and what to trust. Doing God’s work teaching a math and science ignorant public about statistics is the very best thing Nate Silver does: calling elections perfectly is just proof to the public of the power of knowing how to use these tools properly, to my mind.

  12. BennyProfane says:

    That’s all very nice, but, unless he can tell me where I should put my money in ’13, all of that is just a bunch of useless chest beating. I come here for financial advice.

    Thank god this damn campaign is over. But, now it starts with Hillary this, and Hillary that………

  13. krice2001 says:

    Been following Silver only since 2009 and was amazed at his accuracy in the 2010 elections. I came to realize that his model was just better than the rest. When I saw the electoral totals this morning, one of the 1st things I thought was – he nailed it again. I will continue to view his predictions as, by far, the most accurate predictor in future elections.

  14. [...] Nate Silver and the lessons of 2012 (TBP) [...]

  15. callotal says:

    the science/statistics/maths behind what Nate Silver does is basic (nate silver admits that publicly himself).

    wanna be astounded by the power of mathematics? just look at the algorithms that deliver your Netflix suggestions—that’s the hardcore, interesting maths.

  16. 4whatitsworth says:

    Here are my thoughts as I watch the DOW fall..

    #1 There is a large and enthusiastic group that does not share traditional caucasian capitalist values

    #2 Pick a running mate that does not scare the women and can deliver his own state

    #3 Public health care is popular

  17. BennyProfane says:


    and, #4 Don’t treat hard working Hispanics as sub humans.

  18. petessake says:

    Nate, shmate. “Break out star” – horsefeathers.

    Show me the guy that picks it year after year – a year or more out. That IS the guy to watch and whom to whom we should listen. Professor Allen Lichtman’s 13 keys give him an unblemished record. Mr. Silver does great work, tweaking Lichtman up notches; yet if you want a clear, big picture thinker, and analyzer free from the horse-racing calling background noise and the meaningless decimal places of statistics then the professor is the man. Now if we could just get Professor Lichtman to pick a portfolio . . .



    BR: Yeah, thats him — best forecast on 2008, 2010, and 2012

    Dont be a hater, he crushed it

  19. coleyc says:

    I dont get it, he nailed it when everyone else was nailing it too. Intrade barely ever traded below 70 for Obama. How about praising someone when they get it right when everyone else got it wrong.

  20. 4whatitsworth says:


    Agree, Hard working Hispanics are hugely important to the United States and great contributors to the American way of life, and yeah a big factor in the outcome of this election. Hopefully Obama will put in some meaningful immigration reform.

    This said I wish I knew more of what their current expectations of the governments role is.

  21. VennData says:

    pete and forhwhat,

    As opposed to Barron’s Jim McTague, who’s 0-2 when a non-caucasian – capitalist? every heard of Eastern Europe, or Western Europe? or Canada? – is.

    McTague is a typical redneck regurgitating the data-less talking points of the Far Right. Obama’s anti-business etc. He was wrong again.

    Barron’s, get somebody who understands politics, not a custodian at the GOP Media Machine who fills his column with scraps from their factory floor.

    P.S. Oh, today? Buy.

  22. VennData says:

    The future of America…


    …well, the future of Mississippi. American’s intellectual paradise: The Deep South.

  23. DeDude says:

    He basically said that the election was not worth thinking much about because it was a done deal. So the voters could just “turn off” the pundits and go back to the latest sports news. No wonder the pundits were steamed – they had done all they could to create a wave of interest in what they were talking about and then he came telling people that it was not interesting at all.

    The great message was that systematic and careful analysis of facts beats whatever someone pulled out of their ass/gut. Not that this is news but it is something that apparently cannot be pointed out often enough.

    @VennData; yes its them there darn intelectuals. I think they got rid of their old south mascot a year or two ago but that also was not without protests.

  24. BennyProfane says:


    hey, a hundred years ago, they would’ve lynched a few poor souls who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. We are slowly evolving………

  25. callotal says:


    that’s a weird one. I’ve never heard criticism of Silver’s work because he’s gay.

    A lot of ignorance thrown at Silver, but due to innumeracy—not orientation.


    BR: Reread the above — its not a criticism, its an observation

  26. ToNYC says:

    Ann Coulter had it nailed from before the get-go: “..if we don’t run Chris Christie and nominate Romney we’ll lose.”

  27. FNG says:

    While I am sure we are all impressed by Mr. Silver’s work aren’t we losing “sight of the forest for the trees?”
    Any serious analysis of our respective competing political parties reveals their loyalty to the corporatocracy…

    Come back Barry…why give a fuck about an Obamaromney win…let’s talk about sex baby, NO LET’S TALK ABOUT YOU AND ME (THE 96% AND UNDER!)

    Sometimes TBP I want to bitchslap you…

  28. petessake says:

    Sure, Mr. Silver did a good job, but Professor Lichtman’s track record in the presidential calls goes back to the 1980s. I’d just like to see Allen Lichtman receive the rock-star treatment.

    And Mr. Silver’s stats let him down, big time on this one – which wasn’t hard to call if one didn’t rely on statistics from right wing pollsters. It’s not a trifling for a senator from North Dakota has the same clout, often more, than one from California or New York since they have fewer distractions.


  29. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Silver’s work seems to be part of the shift toward the power of aggregated data.
    Can’t happen soon enough.

  30. DeDude says:

    Sort of interesting to see the politico’s hammering at the number crunchers at Fox. Amazing to think that Karl Rove actually think that his gut-feelings and napkin calculations would “Trumph” reality as defined by professional number crunchers. Did he really not understand that in all likelihood he would be looking stupid and lose credibility a few hours later. They really do consider themselves as Alfa-Alfa-males way above anybody else.


  31. VennData says:

    Ted Nugent, when’s visitation?

    “If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year,”


    Another big talker. Ted Nugent You’re a nothing… BS, Top-Forty fag.

  32. dream-king says:

    Speaking as one of those moderately-successful Hispanics contributing to the economy, my social expectations from my government is national single-payer insurance (folding in Medicaid and Medicare), Social Security recipient age to be pushed to 70, the military budget pared down to 2.9% GDP (and total military spending needs to get to below 18%), deficit spending on vetted infrastructure projects benefiting the greatest number of people, revocation of the mortgage interest tax deduction, ending the role of flood insurer of last resort, expiring the Bush tax cuts (though I’m fine with a step-up process as a compromise), and ending budget marking shenanigans.

    I’m optimistic about the future, and I understand the problems of a globalized 21st century will not be effectively met by a governor of New Hampshire. We need to stop pretending we don’t have to rebuild a lot of our bridges, water systems and mass transit, or that it can take a back seat to debt retirement. We need the infrastructure to retain and improve economic effectiveness. People who pretend otherwise, people who say they’re for ‘legal’ immigration but not actually for expansion in immigration, people who care more about a 4% increase in their effective tax rate than improving and maintaining a stable social safety net worth a damn, these are not people optimistic about the future. They’re afraid of losing power. They are not acting as citizens of a long-term project that is the United States.

  33. petessake says:

    Ah, Professor Allan Lichtman receives his due. It isn’t statistics. It isn’t marketing. It is geophysical principle that determine the popular vote for president.



    BR: awesome, I’ll post

  34. [...] Getting it right is the best marketing of all: on the rise of Nate Silver.  (Bob Lefsetz) [...]

  35. [...] people have spoken, and the winner of the election is clear: Nate Silver. Bob Lefsetz writes Nate Silver and the Lessons of 2012, about the solid foundations of his rise to success, and the media’s confusion about its [...]

  36. [...] Nate Silver and the Lessons of 2012 (November 6, 2012) [...]