Numbers Guy Nate Silver Struggling to Read a Chart


Nate Silver, the founder and editor in chief of statistical analysis news site FiveThirtyEight, tweeted on Tuesday that people who support candidate Bernie Sanders for president don’t support anyone else.

Silver was responding to an analysis of campaign finance data published in the Washington Post Tuesday looking at the people who have donated to Democratic presidential campaigns. The article found that “Sanders had the most loyal donor base” of the Democratic candidates, with more than 80 percent of Sanders donors giving exclusively to him.

First of all, it should not be surprising whatsoever that 99 percent of people who have donated to Sanders’ anti-establishment campaign did not then turn around and give money to former Vice President Joe Biden. Sanders’ base is loyal, and there are few other candidates who truly share his goals like Medicare for All. Plus, many of his donors have given in small amounts, so it makes sense to think that they might not have money to give elsewhere.

But the chart and the story clearly show, despite Silver’s suggestion, that roughly 20 percent of Sanders supporters gave to other campaigns. Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) share 60,000 donors. Sanders supporters also gave to Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) in significant amounts. Most overlapping donors gave more money to Sanders, the Post found.

According to the small blue dots I see on the chart, and that I must truly hope Silver can see on the chart too, Sanders donors gave to all 12 of the other candidates named. They are a pale shade, but they are certainly visible.

Let me be very clear: Silver has built his entire career on being the guy who is good at charts, making inviting infographics to simplify our lives. He wrote the guest introduction to The Best American Infographics 2014. So why can’t he read this chart? It’s right in the tweet!

If 20 percent is “basically” nothing to Nate Silver, I would like to humbly request 20 percent of his paycheck to be deposited in my bank account every 2 weeks. Thank you in advance!

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