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FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver Explains Why He Didn't See Donald Trump Coming

"We are seeing the Republican Party on the verge of falling apart."

Allen Kee / ESPN Images

"Donald Trump Is The World’s Greatest Troll," FiveThirtyEight Editor in Chief Nate Silver proclaimed in July 2015, and his "support will probably fade."


Most media outlets got the Trump story wrong. But this one was notable because it came from the same guy who famously called all 50 states in the 2012 presidential election — a feat that changed the way people think about political predictions and punditry. On the latest episode of Re/code Media with Peter Kafka, Silver explained why he missed The Donald and how he and his team at FiveThirtyEight are analyzing the election eight months later.

"We are seeing the Republican Party on the verge of falling apart," Silver said. "Trump’s candidacy reflects a failure of political institutions: The Republican Party and the media."

He denounced Trump as a demagogue who has condoned violence at his rallies, and laid out what a contested Republican National Convention might look like. However, if Trump gets the necessary delegates and becomes the Republican nominee, Silver gives him a 25 percent to 30 percent chance of winning the presidency.

The Democrats, meanwhile, are much easier to call.

"Clinton would have to choke," Silver said. "It’s out of Sanders’s hands right now."

Listen to or download the episode in the audio player above. And make sure to subscribe to Re/code Media with Peter Kafka on iTunes, which you can do right here. You can also find the show on Stitcher and TuneIn. We’ll have a new episode next Thursday.

Want more podcasts? Okay! Try Re/code Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, which you can subscribe to here. Or there’s Too Embarrassed to Ask, hosted by Kara and Lauren Goode from The Verge, which will have a new episode tomorrow. Click here to subscribe to Too Embarrassed to Ask on iTunes.

Finally, don’t miss Re/code Replay, where we’ve posted audio from Peter’s Code/Media 2016 conference, including an interview Peter conducted with Nate Silver’s boss, ESPN president John Skipper. To subscribe to that, click right here.

You can follow @Recode on Twitter for the latest on upcoming guests.

If you like what we’re doing, please write a review on iTunes — and if you don’t, just tweet-strafe Peter. You can also suggest guests for the show, and we’ll do our best to nab them for an interview.

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