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Democrats attack 'Five ThirtyEight' Senate prediction

Democrat Senate Leader Harry Reid
Democrat Senate Leader Harry Reid
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

Who is Neil Silver and why are Democrats in such a national tizzy over his recent forecast that suggests they will lose the Senate in November?

Unlike when Silver correctly predicted a comfortable win by Barack Obama in 2012, the DSCC pushed back against Five ThirtyEight yesterday with a memo from Executive Director Guy Cecil: “Nate Silver and the staff at FiveThirtyEight are doing groundbreaking work, but, as they have noted, they have to base their forecasts on a scarce supply of public polls.”

Mr. Silver and the "Five ThirtyEight" website publication he created is best known for election forecasts, including the 2012 presidential election in which FiveThirtyEight correctly predicted the vote winner of all 50 states. Five Thirtyeight represents the number of electoral votes.

During its 5 1/2 year existence, first as an independent blog, later as a New York Times publication and now as an ESPN journalism outlet, Five Thirtyeight has collected many awards, including "Bloggie" Awards for "Best Political Coverage" in 2008 and "Best Weblog about Politics" in 2009, as well as "Webbies" for "Best Political Blog" in 2012 and 2013.

Hardly a conservative entity, the ESPN-owned FiveThirtyEight began publication on March 17, 2014, and quickly raised the ire of leading Democrats by announcing that Republicans are favored over Democrats in November’s key Senate races.

Neil Silver is the editor-in-chief of Five ThirtyEight. With a staff of 20, ESPN says the data journalism publication will focus on five major subject areas — politics, economics, science, life and sports.

What's got leading Democrats clamoring to plug the hole in their political dike is a recent column by Silver that says Republicans are now slight favorites "to win at least six seats and capture the chamber."

In his column, Silver says Democrats have lost ground since last summer with President Obama’s approval ratings down to 42 or 43 percent from an average of about 45 percent last year. Adding to the Democrats’ woes, the GOP has done a better job of recruiting credible candidates, with some exceptions, according to Silver.

Democrats who touted Silver's statistics when Five ThirtyEight correctly predicted they would keep the Senate in 2010 and that Obama would win his 2012 election comfortably have furiously rebuked Silver's pronouncement that Democrats are set to lose control of the Senate come November.

By most accounts, Republicans will hang on to the House in any case.