Behind The Scenes

Massive Election Day operation sets FiveThirtyEight apart

Election Day is finally here, and as voters around the country head to the polls, readers flock to FiveThirtyEight to follow its comprehensive coverage of today’s events.

David Firestone (Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)
FiveThirtyEight’s managing editor David Firestone
(Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)

Throughout the day, the site will be monitoring exit polls, covering breaking developments and analyzing the returns as they come in. Editor-in-Chief Nate Silver and his editorial staff will host an ongoing live Election Day blog, publish various election-related articles and videos and host an hourly livestream with state-by-state updates. A full guide to FiveThirtyEight’s Election Day coverage is available on ESPN MediaZone.

Front Row spoke with managing editor David Firestone about the site’s political team, its multimedia coverage and what’s to come once the next president is elected.

What election-related FiveThirtyEight stories are you looking forward to the most?
Our full-day live blog, which will be much bigger and broader than anything we’ve ever tried before. It will feature contributions from almost every member from our staff and partners that we brought on from around the country.

We’ll look at problems at the polls, issues affecting voters in every state and at exactly what happens on election night as results start to come in. We will put every ounce of energy we’ve got in it, and it will be one of our greatest creations.

How has the political team evolved since the beginning of this election’s cycle?
We have hired several writers, both on staff and freelancers, as well as political scientists and analysts from around the country. We think we have one of the best teams that can be assembled. It’s been amazing watching how well they work together and the wonderful stories they’ve been producing.

You’ve added a lot of multimedia – what is the advantage of being able to use those mediums in FiveThirtyEight’s work?
It expands our audience in ways we hadn’t even imagined in the beginning. We launched the podcasts, which were downloaded in huge numbers. FiveThirtyEight’s producer Jody Avirgan then had the idea of taking the FiveThirtyEight Elections podcast to the road, which proved instantly popular. In video, we started live broadcasting the podcasts as they were created and we have done several videos of the reporters talking about their work. We also developed several films with ESPN Films about historical and current aspects of the election, which have been very popular on the site as well.

What are you doing on November 9?
We are not going home. November 9 can wind up being just as interesting as November 8. What happens to this country after this very divisive election is of great interest to us. We will cover the new administration, write about what happens to the two parties – which are in many cases more divided than expected to be. We will focus our attention on the future rather than predict where things go, and we will try to explain what’s going on.