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What Nate Silver’s learned about forecasting elections

The FiveThirtyEight founder talks with Ezra Klein about who will win in 2018 — and how to think about 2020.

Nate Silver, founder of FiveThirtyEight, on forecasting the 2018 election and thinking clearly about the 2020 election.
Corbis via Getty Images

This close to an election, who do I want to hear from? Nate Silver, of course.

I sat down with the FiveThirtyEight founder and math wizard on my podcast to talk about how he builds his forecasting models, what they’re saying about 2018, how big the Democrats’ structural disadvantage in the House and Senate really is, whether there’s a purpose to predicting election outcomes, which campaign reporters he reads, and whether Trump is the favorite for 2020.

Silver and I also share the experience of building journalism outlets trying to do things a bit differently over the past five years, so we discuss what he learned launching FiveThirtyEight, what he wishes he knew at the beginning, how he defines “data journalism,” and how he hires.

Silver brings unusual clarity and rigor to the topics he focuses on, and right now, given the speed and intensity of the elections news cycle, a bit of rigor is a welcome thing. You can listen to our conversation here, or subscribe to The Ezra Klein Show on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, YouTube, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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