Will Nate Silver ruin his brand with NCAA predictions?

Statistical guru Nate Silver, known for his 2012 election predictions, has been branching out into other areas recently on the New York Times site. Check out his 2013 NCAA predictions. Or look at his 2013 Oscar predictions.

While Silver has a background in sports statistics, I wonder if these forays into new areas with the imprimatur of the New York Times will eventually backfire. In many ways, these new areas have less data than presidential elections and thus, Silver has to step further out on a limb. For example, look at these predictions for the 2013 NCAA bracket:

The top pick for 2013, Louisville, only has a 22.7% chance of winning. If Silver goes with this pick of Louisville, and he does, then he by his own figures will be wrong 77.3% of the time. These are not good odds.

I’m not sure Silver can really win much by predicting the NCAA champion or the Oscars because the odds of making a wrong prediction are higher. What happens if he is wrong a number of times in a row? Will people still listen to him in the same way? What happens when the 2016 presidential election comes along? Of course, Silver could continue to develop better models and make more accurate picks but even this takes attention away from his political predictions.

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