The New York Times said Thursday that it would begin hosting the popular blog FiveThirtyEight and make its founder, Nate Silver, a regular contributor to the newspaper and the Sunday magazine.
Mr. Silver, a statistical wizard, became a media star during the last presidential election season for his political projections based on dissections of polling data. He retains all rights to FiveThirtyEight and will continue to run it himself, but “under the banner and auspices of NYTimes.com,” The Times said in a news release.
The arrangement is similar to one The Times struck with the authors of the blog Freakonomics in 2007. The Freakonomics blog appears in the Opinion section of NYTimes.com. FiveThirtyEight content will be incorporated in the politics section of NYTimes.com.
Along with his contributions to the newspaper and The Times Magazine, Mr. Silver will also work with the journalists and software developers who create interactive graphics for NYTimes.com.
“Nate won considerable recognition during the 2008 presidential campaign for his timely and prescient reports on the electoral races and on public opinion,” Bill Keller, the executive editor of The Times, said in a statement. “We look forward to his unique perspectives on statistics, covering a wide swath of issues relating to politics, culture and sports.”
Before making a name for himself with political calculations, Mr. Silver’s specialty was baseball statistics. In 2002 he sold a predictive system he had built, called Pecota, to Baseball Prospectus. He was a managing partner at Baseball Prospectus until he stepped down in March 2009.
By then, he had turned his attention primarily to politics. In the early months of the last presidential election, Mr. Silver was disenchanted with media coverage and analysis of the primary election polls, so he started dissecting the data in blog entries on the Web site Daily Kos. “I get as excited about polls as anyone; at the same time, I believe that people tend to misuse them, focusing more on the end numbers and not so much on the internals,” he wrote in a blog post in December 2007.
During the primary season, he gained attention for his projections of electoral vote counts and Congressional races. As Stephanie Clifford explained in a New York Times profile of Mr. Silver in 2008, “he began feeding a database with every poll available, from the University of Akron to Zogby International, state demographics and election results from 1952 forward. He weighted all the polls on historical accuracy, and adjusted them for whether they tended to favor Democrats or Republicans and other factors, then built a model that simulated elections.”
Mr. Silver said on his Web site in 2008 that he was a supporter of President Obama. “I vote for Democratic candidates the majority of the time (though by no means always),” he wrote at the time.
Mr. Silver introduced FiveThirtyEight.com in March of 2008, initially under the same pseudonym he had used on Daily Kos. He started to use his own name two months later, and soon found himself being cited by columnists and being booked on television talk shows.
Mr. Silver has tackled other topics on FiveThirtyEight as well: last April he published a comprehensive nutritional analysis of fast food sandwiches showing how they stacked up to a new KFC concoction called the Double Down. Mr. Keller’s statement indicated that The Times would incorporate Mr. Silver’s analysis of culture and sports along with politics.