In his spare time, just as a hobby, Nate Silver launched FiveThirtyEight.com, built a model to predict the election, and just absolutely nailed it. He missed only on Indiana, which Obama won by a just .9% of votes. Just about everywhere else, he was spot on, including the popular vote, and so far, the Senate Prediction. His model for the Election was even more accurate than his PECOTA model for baseball, and I used that to win a fantasy baseball league this year.
I hope newspapers and professional journalism don't die as they invest the time in long-lead, high-investment pieces that the web doesn't seem to devote enough attention to. But the web has absolutely accelerated the speed with which smart people like Silver can come to national prominence, and that is a beautiful thing. If Silver had had to fight his way up some newspaper hierarchy for a spot on the front page of the politics coverage, he would've been waiting a long time.
Incidentally, Silver analyzes the data and finds a correlation between Obama's contact rate advantage in key battleground states and his outperformance of polls in those states. He estimates "each marginal 10-point advantage in contact rate translated into a marginal 3-point gain in the popular vote in that state."
The state where had the greatest contact rate advantage? Nevada, where he had an advantage of 21%, 50% to 29%.
So those of you who made your way out to Nevada on your own dime, some driving down from distant cities like San Francisco, to go knock on doors and rally, you made a difference.