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National News

November 12, 2012

He called election, now Silver's a pop-culture star

NEW YORK (AP) — Nate Silver is getting a little taste of what things are going to be like for him, post-Election 2012.

The 34-year-old statistician, unabashed numbers geek, author and creator of the much-read FiveThirtyEight blog at The New York Times had gone out for a drink the other night with friends on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. But he couldn’t stay incognito; immediately, he says, people sitting at the bar recognized him.

He was surprised, but probably shouldn’t have been. After all, ever since his election forecasts had proved uncannily successful — he correctly predicted the presidential winner in all 50 states, and almost all the Senate races — he’d been hailed as the election’s “other winner,” who’d silenced doubters and proved the value of a cool-headed, math-based approach.

That very night, he’d appeared on Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” for the second time in three weeks. “Don’t you want to stand up and say, ‘I am Nate Silver, bow down to me!!’” Stewart roared, as the bespectacled Silver sat and chuckled. His name was trending on Twitter and he was the subject of a satirical Twitter hashtag, “Drunk Nate Silver.” The Hollywood Reporter said he’d “made statistics sexy again.” Many called his story a real-life “Revenge of the Nerds” tale.

And, oh, his new book had soared to No. 2 on Amazon, after he linked to it on Twitter an hour after the first network call for President Barack Obama. (“This is probably a good time to link to my book,” he’d tweeted at 12:13 a.m. — the closest he came to gloating.)

Even so, Silver says he wasn’t quite prepared for that incident in the bar.

“It’s odd,” he said in a telephone interview from his Brooklyn home. “Is this going to happen every day, as opposed to once a month? I still have to get accustomed to this.”

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