Nate Silver, a New York Times polling expert, picked 49 out of 50 states in the 2008 presidential election, but yesterday he chose every state correctly.
Silver takes national and state polls, and calculates how likely a candidate is to win. Yesterday, he predicted that President Obama had a 91% chance of winning the election.
Still, Silver is not without his detractors.
Last week, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough mocked Silver and called him a "joke." In response, Silver "bet" Scarborough $1,000 (for charity) that he was right.
Conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg also mocked Silver this week in the Los Angeles Times:
To listen to many of Silver's defenders, questioning his methodology is akin to rejecting evolution or the laws of thermodynamics, as if only his model is sanctified by the god, Reason.
Last night, however, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow gave Silver credit for his call: "You know who won the election tonight? Nate Silver."
In contrast, two University of Colorado professors, Ken Bickers from Boulder and Michael Berry from Denver, picked Mitt Romney to win. Their prediction model has been 100% correct since 1980, but took a hit last night.
In the video below, posted by the New York TImes, Silver explains the election night numbers.