Behind The Scenes

No debate about it, FiveThirtyEight feeds hunger for election forecasts

FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver (left) with host of the The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. (Scott Kowalchyk/CBS)
FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver (L) talks presidential politics with Stephen Colbert.
(Scott Kowalchyk/CBS)
The FiveThirtyEight team responsible for the Live Blog during the final Presidential Debate. (Amy Phillips/ESPN)
The FiveThirtyEight team works on the “Live Blog” during the final presidential debate. (Photo courtesy of FiveThirtyEight/ESPN)

NEW YORK – Wednesday night, more than 20 staffers gathered in the FiveThirtyEight offices on the Upper West Side of Manhattan to contribute 186 updates during the course of the site’s 2016 presidential debate coverage, which began at 8 p.m. ET and concluded around midnight with a special post-election podcast.

This marked FiveThirtyEight’s 50th live blog of debates or election returns in the 2016 cycle. The site has experienced record traffic and time spent during the general-election debate period, and at one point FiveThirtyEight accounted for 16 percent of ESPN’s total unique visitors.

This is in keeping with the growth FiveThirtyEight has experienced leading up to the election. Led by the General Election Forecast, the site’s politics section has featured increasingly popular daily updates on the race, in-depth features on larger political and demographic trends, and a series of election podcasts and videos that are in high demand. (The forecast is the single most popular piece of content across all of ESPN’s web properties.)

The site’s founder and Editor-In-Chief Nate Silver rushed from FiveThirtyEight’s coverage center to the Ed Sullivan Theater in midtown to appear on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” and provide election analysis as part of Colbert’s live post-debate special.

As Election Day nears, FiveThirtyEight will continue its expansive coverage, including its very popular Elections Podcast. The site’s comprehensive, data-driven approach extends beyond politics to include Sports, Science & Health, Economics and Culture.

“It’s been very gratifying to see millions of readers and viewers enjoying our political coverage during this astonishing campaign season,” said David Firestone, FiveThirtyEight’s managing editor. “And it’s even better to know that large numbers of those readers are staying for the increasing variety of powerful work we’re doing in other areas as well.”

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