Nate Silver, founder of FiveThirtyEight, to talk data and politics at Northeastern

He’ll tell you why Beto O’Rourke might be a dark horse candidate in the Democratic presidential field, but also why you shouldn’t count out President Trump’s re-election chances. He can also tell you who will emerge as the victor of March Madness and how Major League Baseball could reduce strikeouts and improve the pace of play.

Nate Silver, founder and editor in chief of the analytics news site FiveThirtyEight, will appear at Northeastern’s Boston campus on Wednesday to discuss the role of data in predicting and understanding the new landscape of American politics. He might even make a few sports prognostications, too.

A trained statistician, Silver directed his passion for baseball and poker analytics into the arena of politics in 2008 via his blog, FiveThirtyEight, which borrowed its name from the number of electors in the United States electoral college. Today, under the ownership of ESPN, Silver’s popular, data-focused blog not only covers politics and sports, but also analyzes health and science data, the economy, and where to find the best burrito in the country.

FiveThirtyEight came into prominence in 2008 for accurately predicting the outcomes of the elections that year. In 2009, Silver was named one of the world’s 100 most influential people by Time magazine after he successfully called the results in 49 of the 50 states in the 2008 presidential election.

Silver correctly predicted the winner of all 50 states and the District of Columbia  in the 2012 United States presidential election. His site gave Donald Trump the highest percentage chance of winning the presidency of any polling model tracked by The New York Times, even as news outlets attacked Silver for overestimating Trump’s chances.

Silver generates predictions using a clever poll-aggregating technique that accounts for biases, such as pollsters who call only people with landlines.

He will be in conversation with Northeastern political science professor Costas Panagopoulos on March 27 at 4 p.m. in East Village.

The event marks the second installment of Northeastern’s new series, “The Civic Experience,” profiling the generation of cutting-edge leaders who are shaping media, politics, and policy. The program launched on March 18 with a panel discussion by four leading political correspondents about what it’s like to be a journalist or political leader in an increasingly polarized and digitally driven world.

Future events will feature South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a former Naval intelligence officer who was elected at age 29 in 2011 and re-elected in 2015. He will be discussing the influence of millennials in American politics on April 3 at the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex.

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