Friday, June 20, 2014


I don't know how Nate Silver's new NYT-free site is doing with the overall public, but I do know that I am not visiting it as much as I did in other election years. I know 2014 is a mere "mid-term", meaning that there is no Presidential election. But there are a lot of big races that I am trying to watch. Quite a few Governors, Senators and the entire House of Representatives are up for election in November. And some of them are also likely Presidential candidates in 2016, whose prospects are going to be greatly affected by their ability to survive reelection less than five months from now. (I'm looking at you, Scott!)

So why isn't FiveThirtyEight posting about all of these races? Given Silver's reputation, it could easily become the go-to site for political junkies. I understand that Nate wants his new site to be about more than just politics. It has a big staff and aspirations to cover a whole lot of other things. Still, there is a "politics" section to the site, why isn't that section filled with charts and projections for all of the upcoming races? There are occasional posts about who might control the Senate, or examining assumptions that political commentators often make, like turnout in mid-term years. But where are the constantly updated charts?

Both Silver's New York Times site and his own site before that did not just have regular posts commenting on stuff that Nate found to be interesting, they also had charts. Lots of charts. Multiple charts for each race, updated on a daily basis, with tracking polling averages with individual pollsters weighed based on Nate's evaluation of the polling firm's past performance. You could look at the individual pollsters and look up how reliable Silver though they were. There was an endless amount of data on even races that had not yet reached the national consciousness. Those charts are what made me a 538 junkie in the past. The lack of charts is what makes the latest version of the site just feel like anywhere else that posts political commentary. I might visit following a link from Facebook or a blog I read regularly. But I'm not in the habit of going there on my own. Without the charts, 538 is just another news commentary site in a crowded field.