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Stats & Data

May 26, 2016

Nate Silver is dating millions of people so that he can accurately predict the next election, but only one voter has caught his eye.

To: rb.mcclair@gmail.com

From: Nate.NeverWrong.Silver@FiveThirtyEight.com

Subject: Hey…

My dear Minnesota voter 5807 (or, Snuggie-Pie),

Before anything else, I have to come clean. Remember how I told you that I’m a statistician specializing in elections? Well, originally I only started dating you because I wanted to find out who you were going to vote for this November. You’re one of 100,000,000 voters I’m dating at the moment to give me the most accurate data set about the upcoming presidential election.

Now before you get too mad, please hear me out. I feel terrible about deceiving you. But the 2016 campaign has proven to have too many wildcards for me to rely on the typical methods of data collection. And I’ve been so right about the other elections, I felt like I couldn’t get this one wrong. So I decided to get close to every likely voter in the country and find out myself who they were voting for. And with my romantic prowess, combined with my efficiency as a statistician, I knew that dating tens of millions of people at once would be easy.

What I didn’t anticipate was falling in love with one of them. With you.


100% sexy (0 margin of error)

Yes, I wooed them just like I wooed you. I sent all of them chocolates laid out in a bar graph that displayed how popular each chocolate was. I told them impressive story of how I went from New York Times blogger to the bidding war over my website FiveThirtyEight.com. I went down on each one on the second date. Please believe me when I say they mean nothing to now!


A graph of likely voter turnout based on previous elections is easy to understand… What’s more complicated are my feelings for you.

Out of all one hundred million likely voters, you’re special to me: you’re the only one who wrinkles their nose when they sip through a straw and wears a coat even when it’s in the 70s (which I still think is silly!). And when you when you suggested I try an electoral college map that had Wisconsin going for Donald Trump, I knew then that we were more than pollster and piece of data. We were soulmates.

I know I was planning to break up with you once I found out who you were voting for. But knowing that you’re voting for Hillary isn’t enough for me. I want to know what’s in your heart.


I predicted the winner of every state in 2012. Am I just as accurate in predicting a future together?

I almost wasn’t even going to bring this up. But I calculated that there was a 78% chance that you felt the same way too. Then I factored in how much it might upset you that I was dishonest, and that brought the chances of you ever wanting to see me again to 55%. With 3 +/- margin of error, that still keeps things at over 50%. I usually like the odds to be much more than that, but I know now that love isn’t about being right.

Regardless of what you decide, I’m calling it off with all of the others. TODAY. I’m done with the life of a playboy political analyst. I’m sending them a mass email that’ll bcc you on. Because their voting choice doesn’t matter as much to me as it does

I still hope I get it right this November. However, if I get it wrong (and if I do, I know it won’t be by much), at least I know I’m not getting

Yours, Nate Silver

P.S. Before you say yes or no, full disclosure, I have a staggering number of venereal diseases.