It all began on an Amtrak platform.
Nate Silver has proven to be -- along with Ann Romney, moon bases, and Trapper Keepers -- one of the breakout stars of the 2012 presidential campaign. Not only has the stats wizard become a Media Figure, with the controversy and "what does he say about us" anxieties that come with the distinction; he has also become a celebrity. The FiveThirtyEight blog, The New Republic reported this afternoon, accounted for a whopping 71 percent of all politics visits to The New York Times last week. And it's accounted for somewhere between 10 and 20 percent of politics visits in the weeks leading up to the current electoral finale. Yesterday, in the T-minus-one-day furor, 20 percent of all visits to all of nytimes.com -- the sixth-most-trafficked news site in the United States -- went to Silver's blog.
So how did Silver and FiveThirtyEight come to be associated with the Times in the first place? The FiveThirtyEight blog, after all, spent the 2008 campaign season as just that: a blog. It wasn't until 2010 that the paper licensed it -- for a period, according to the contract, of three years.
What you might not know, though, is that FiveThirtyEight is part of The New York Times because of a chance encounter on an Amtrak platform in Boston.