When I think about mathematics, one of the last things on my mind is politics. That’s why I was surprised when I read Statistics-Based Blog Debuts in NY Times. According to the article, 25-year-old statistician Nate Silver, who writes the blog, ‘FiveThirtyEight: Nate Silver’s Political Calculus‘, uses statistics to accurately predict the outcome of elections.

Using his knowledge of Sabermetrics and other baseball statistics, Silver takes polling data (weighting it based on its historical merit as well as sample size and recent polling) and ‘balances’ it against demographic data. The article does not give any specifics of the statistics beyond this, but I’m sure Silver’s methods can be learned about in greater detail elsewhere.

The really interesting part about all of this is that Silver’s predictions were astonishingly accurate. According to the article, “[During the 2008 election] he predicted the presidential winner in 49 states—and the winner of every Senate race.”

Who would have thought that using baseball statistics you could almost completely accurately predict the outcome of an election? I know I wouldn’t have.