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If you want to be president, hire geeks

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AS THE US re-elected President Barack Obama, mathematics fans crowned their own king: statistician Nate Silver.

He was the most prominent of a handful of political forecasters who applied sophisticated techniques to polling data from individual states to reveal an early Obama lead that never went away (see charts).

That was in stark contrast to the findings of traditional opinion polls and the predictions of political commentators and pundits. Almost invariably, they declared the race too close to call, providing a neat, but ultimately false campaign narrative.

The new breed embodied by Silver is clearly a force to be reckoned with, so what impact will their predictive power have on the elections of the future?

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They can't predict what isn't there. If they do make a prediction its because evidence points that way. Them themselves will not influence how people vote. Their predictions would be interesting to keep up with though.

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