A new political blog/sub-domain of the New York Times website officially launched this week and you should keep your eyes on its progress - the FiveThirtyEight blog. This blog will bring together the visualisation prowess of the NYT with the political knowledge and statistical modelling capabilities of Nate Silver and his team of collaborators.
During the presidential election of 2008 Nate used a unique methodology taken from his experiences in analysing baseball to introduce a new approach for calculating polling data based on demographic data and taking into consideration factors around historical trends, sample sizes and how recent sample polls were taken.
Using computer modeling to generate huge numbers of simulated elections (Monte Carlo method?) to help predict the outcomes of the various stages of the election, he rapidly developed a reputation for incredible accuracy, eventually correctly forecasting the winners of 49 of the 50 states and every one of the 35 Senate races.
The fivethirtyeight blog has existed to discuss, share and analyse the statistical information its models generate before and throughout the 2008 election and also since then, covering many different topics and applications of forecasted statistical information.
You should expect some fantastic visualisation output as a result of this partnership, as Silver acknowledges:
"The New York Times, which is not only hosting the blog but is enlisting its team of interactive journalists and graphics experts to deepen and enhance it... Fundamentally, I’ve always seen FiveThirtyEight’s mission as being parallel to journalism: objectivity and accuracy have been core values of the blog, but it has also prized clarity of thought and of written and visual communication."
Here is an immediate example: