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Electoral Projections Done Right

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FiveThirtyEight.com earns the distinction of being the first blog selected as a Notable Narrative. In his posts, former economic analyst and baseball-stats wunderkind Nate Silver explains the presidential race, using the dramatic tension inherent in the run-up to Election Day to drive his narrative. Come November 5, we will have a winner and a loser, but in the meantime, Silver spins his story from the myriad polls that confound us lesser mortals.

Can blogs be narrative? We would argue that the shifting frames of FiveThirtyEight.com’s posts do indeed trace a narrative arc, even if each dispatch lacks the expected “beginning-middle-end.” Silver’s language may be less lyrical than most of the writing we highlight, but he is entirely present as a narrator. His friendly voice shows in his relaxed explanation of the meaning in the numbers, and though he openly roots for Obama he also provides analysis that is objective enough to gain a following from both sides of the aisle. Silver’s partner, Sean Quinn, mines his history as a professional poker player to make extended gambling metaphors. Other elements of traditional narrative lurk in “The Road to 270,” a travelogue of visits to grass-roots organizers around the country.