It looks like The New York Times will have a major hole to fill for its coverage of the 2014 midterm elections. That’s because election forecaster extraordinaire Nate Silver is reportedly packing up his FiveThirtyEight blog and taking it over to ESPN, according to the Times’ Brian Stelter. The media reporter says he learned of Silver’s departure from a source at the sports network. Stelter also reports that Silver informed the Times on Friday of his decision to leave.

In addition to number-crunching and writing columns, Silver is expected to be a regular contributor on “Olbermann,” a new program hosted by former “Sportscenter” anchor and MSNBC host Keith Olbermann that’s set to debut on ESPN2 next month. He will also factor in ABC News’ political coverage during election years. Both ESPN and ABC News are owned by Disney.

A formal announcement could come as soon as Monday.

Brian Stelter at The New York Times:

Before creating statistical models for elections, Mr. Silver was a baseball sabermetrician who built a highly effective system for projecting how players would perform in the future. For a time he was a managing partner of Baseball Prospectus.

At public events recently, he has expressed interest in covering sports more frequently, so the ESPN deal is a logical next step.

Mr. Silver’s three-year contract with The Times is set to expire in late August and his departure will most likely be interpreted as a blow to the company, which has promoted Mr. Silver and his brand of poll-based projections.

He gained such prominence in 2012 that President Obama joked that Mr. Silver had accurately predicted which turkeys the president would pardon that Thanksgiving. “Nate Silver completely nailed it,” he said. “The guy’s amazing.”

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— Posted by Tracy Bloom.


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