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Nate Silver Leads a New Era of Techonomic Poll Tracking

The 2012 Techonomy conference will be held Nov. 11-12, so the results of the presidential election are certain to loom large. One aspect of electoral politics that’s been transformed by the influence of tech and the Internet is polling—and its amplified impact on the national discourse. In his New York Magazine story profiling this trend, Jason Zengerle notes that the methods for gathering and analyzing polling data have undergone a sea change since 1990, when nearly all polls were conducted by live operators over land lines. In recent years, the number of polling organizations, and the statistical noise they generate, has ballooned. During the 2008 election, Nate Silver emerged as the poster boy for a new era of sophisticated predictive number crunching. He has almost single-handedly made poll-tracking culturally relevant, and even sexy. (There’s a Facebook group called “There’s a 97.3 Percent Chance That Nate Silver is Totally My Boyfriend.”) Silver predicts that the market will yet produce a handful of celebrity polling analysts to vie for our attention. With sophisticated social media analysis of trends, clustering, and influencers emerging as the next frontier of predictive tracking, a new breed of pollster will almost certainly validate his prediction.

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