Did a 34 year old statistician and “poker number expert”
used tried and true mathematics to predict the outcome of the 2012 US
Presidential Elections with better than 90 percent accuracy?

By: Ringo Bones

Despite attracting widespread ridicule from traditional
political pundits in what was regarded as the closest US Presidential Race in
years, a 34 year old statistician and poker numbers expert named Nate Silver
gave incumbent US President Barack Obama a 90.9 % chance of success by using
tried and true mathematical techniques way before the final voting results came
through. Nate Silver used an elaborate series of tried and true calculations to
correctly call the outcome in all 50 states by running thousands of computer
calculations based on innumerable factors such as polling results and voting
outcomes of previous elections. His achievement opens the door for a more
statistics-based approach to polling says experts. Given Silver’s mathematically
predictive success, will the outcome of the next US Presidential Election – in
2016 – be predicted with better than 90 percent accuracy using his method?

The highly mathematical approach used by Nate Silver – which
has echoes of the book and a Hollywood film that stars Brad Pitt about baseball
statistics titled “Moneyball” – involves running hundreds of mathematical
calculations for the polling data of each state based on a myriad of factors,
including election results from the past and more recent polling data. Even
though Silver is an avowed Obama supporter, his “magic mathematical formula”
calculated that there was a 90.0 % likelihood of an Obama win and the President
would win 332 Electoral College seats compared to 206 for Republican challenger
Mitt Romney – correct if the Democrat wins Florida which, at the time, was yet
to declare when Silver made his prediction.

Years before gaining fame for his mathematical predictions
for the 2012 US Presidential Race, Nate Silver’s mathematical skills were
already well known in the American journalistic world because back in 2010 his
existing blog at FiveThirtyEight.com was bought by the New York Times for a
princely sum. And then Silver revealed to them his own proprietary mathematical
models for predicting election results based on a combination of electoral
history, demographics and polling results. I wonder if Silver’s mathematical
method works in the actuary world of determining cost competitive premium rates
for insurance policies with “sketchy” statistical data.