DiscoverVox ConversationsNate Silver on why 2020 isn't 2016
Nate Silver on why 2020 isn't 2016

Nate Silver on why 2020 isn't 2016

Update: 2020-10-2919


As you may have heard, there's a pretty important election coming up. That means it's time to bring back the one and only Nate Silver. 

Silver, the founder and editor-in-chief of FiveThirtyEight, boasts one of the best election forecasting records of any analyst in the last 15 years. His forecasting models successfully predicted the outcomes in 49 of the 50 states in the 2008 US presidential election and all 50 states in 2012. And in 2016, Silver’s FiveThirtyEight gave Donald Trump a 28 percent chance of victory — a significantly higher percentage than virtually any other prominent analyst at the time. He knows what he’s talking about, and it shows in this conversation. We discuss: 

  • What went wrong with the polls in 2016 — and whether pollsters today have corrected for those mistakes 

  • Why a 2016-sized polling error in 2020 would still hand Joe Biden the election

  • Why the 2020 race has been so incredibly steady despite a global pandemic, an economic crisis, and the biggest national protest movement in US history 

  • The possibility of a Biden landslide  

  • The not-so-small chance that Biden could win Texas and Georgia 

  • The massive Republican advantage in the Senate, House, and Electoral College — and how that affects our national politics 

  • Why the Senate would still advantage Republicans, even if Democrats added five blue states. 

  • Whether the Bernie Sanders left took the wrong lessons from 2016 

  • Why Biden’s unorthodox 2020 campaign strategy has been so successful 

  • Whether Sanders would be doing just as well against Trump as Biden is doing 

  • How a more generic, non-Trump Republican would be faring against Biden 

  • Why Silver is generally optimistic that we will avoid an electoral crisis on November 3 

And much more.


“How FiveThirtyEight’s 2020 Presidential Forecast Works — And What’s Different Because Of COVID-19." Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight

"The Senate’s Rural Skew Makes It Very Hard For Democrats To Win The Supreme Court." Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight

Let the People Pick the President: The Case for Abolishing the Electoral College by Jesse Wegman

"Toby Ord on existential risk, Donald Trump, and thinking in probabilities." The Ezra Klein Show

"The Real Story of 2016" by Nate Silver

Book recommendations:

The Biggest Bluff by Maria Konnikova

Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom

The Precipice by Toby Ord  


Producer/Audio engineer - Jeff Geld

Researcher - Roge Karma

Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.

New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (

Want to contact the show? Reach out at

Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Comments (2)

Yasmine C

F* that guy. F all pollsters.

Nov 7th


Nate Silver says the word "right" far far far too much. Otherwise I really enjoyed the episode 🙂

Nov 1st








Sleep Timer


End of Episode

5 Minutes

10 Minutes

15 Minutes

30 Minutes

45 Minutes

60 Minutes

120 Minutes

Nate Silver on why 2020 isn't 2016

Nate Silver on why 2020 isn't 2016