Looking at Google Trends is always an interesting way to get a glimpse of what seems to be on the world’s mind. Typically, among the hot trends, you’ll see some celebrity news, or some big breaking story.
But, holy cow, topping the “Hot Search Trends” for Wednesday was none other than Nate Silver. Yes, that Nate Silver of the New York Times blog FiveThirtyEight who correctly forecasted the outcome of every state in the presidential election.
If Silver is topping something like Google’s search trends, it means he has officially crossed over from being a figure of great note to political insiders, to a full-fledged mainstream celebrity. That’s remarkable, considering that at the end of the day, he’s a number cruncher (a damn good one).
Felix Salmon of Reuters may have captured Silver’s appeal best when he wrote:
“Silver is the most visible of the quants, partly because of his perch at the NYT, partly because he has a new book out, and partly because he’s very good at taking his complex mathematical model and turning it into bite-sized English-language blog posts. If you think that the value of Nate Silver is in the model, you’re missing the most important part: there are lots of people with models, and most of those models are pretty similar to each other. The thing which sets Silver apart from the rest is that he can write: he can take a model and turn it into a narrative, walking his readers through to his conclusions.”
Not surprisingly, that book Salmon mentions has taken off like a rocket in the last couple of days. Says Politico:
“The New York Times’ political statistician recently released a book, and in the last 24 hours sales have skyrocketed by 850% on Amazon.com, CNNMoney reports. “It is now the second best selling book on the site, behind only popular children’s book, ‘The Third Wheel, Diary of a Wimpy Kid Book 7.'”
Let’s hope Silver caught up on some sleep. He’ll probably only get a day or two break before people start looking for updates on the 2016 contest.