The New York Times is probably pretty grateful for Nate Silver right now: His controversial FiveThirtyEight blog accounted for 20% of all visits to the newspaper's site yesterday, the New Republic reports. Silver, who has a host of fervent supporters and detractors, got attention with his final election forecast giving President Obama about a nine-in-10 chance of winning tonight. Technically, he's a long-term contractor rather than a staff writer, and the Times simply licensed his blog for three years before starting to host it in 2010.
FiveThirtyEight has been growing in popularity, with 71% of all visits to the Times' political coverage including a stop at the blog, up from just 10% to 20% earlier this year. And now, as the 20% figure makes clear, the blog is becoming more popular for readers of the site as a whole, at least at election crunch time: Earlier this year, just 1% of all visits to NYT.com included a stop at FiveThirtyEight; by last week that was up to 13%, and by yesterday it hit 20%. And "538" is the only Times staffer or brand to appear as a top search term on Web information company Alexa. (Read more Nate Silver stories.)