The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Student Dinner Discussion with Harry Enten '11

17W Public Program

Dean Lacy, chairman of the government department, and Harry Enten, a 2011 graduate and senior analyst at the data journalism site FiveThirtyEight. Photo by Hung Nguyen.

17W Public Program

Enten participated in a student dinner discussion with more than 30 students in attendance, which was candid and personal. Photo by Hung Nguyen.

17W Public Program

Enten elicited both laughter and intellectual conversation throughout the student dinner that followed his public program. Photo by Hung Nguyen.

17W Public Program

Students conversed with Harry Enten '11 about topics ranging from Dartmouth’s Student Assembly to influences in the recent election’s voting data. Photo by Hung Nguyen.

Article Type 

There were 180+ attendees at the “Aftermath: What the 2016 Election Taught Us About Polls, Predictions and American Politics” event with Harry Enten ’11 on Feb 3, with a majority of students in the audience.

Interesting aspects of the lecture included Enten’s assessment of how little the greater majority of the polled public understands about polling and statistical data analysis. The background information of the data covers confidence intervals and also concerns itself with the weighting of groups in a data sample to be representative of a population. Without knowledge of this, we really do not have a firm grasp on what the numbers mean. Enten did a great job contextualizing the decisions FiveThirtyEight made and how it presented its data to the public. Highlights of the event also included the degree to which he dispelled some commonly held notions about the inaccuracy of polls and polling this past cycle. Some audience members asked about specific signs prior to the election; in turn, Enten discussed political trends and variability in political figures.

Enten also discussed his time at Dartmouth. He commented that the College’s liberal arts curriculum and independent studies aided his writing abilities and blog. Leading to his later career, he mentioned his mother’s advice to “keep writing,” even when he did not have a job. His work led to him being picked up by The Guardian. From there, Enten’s experience broadened to working at FiveThirtyEight. People also asked about what it is like to be an analyst at FiveThirtyEight, to which Enten replied he believes that FiveThirtyEight values his encyclopedic knowledge of campaigns and elections, presidents and Congress, and politics.

Enten participated in a student dinner discussion with more than 30 students in attendance, which was candid and personal. Enten elicited both laughter and intellectual conversation throughout the dinner. Students conversed about topics ranging from Dartmouth’s Student Assembly to influences in the recent election’s voting data.

For more about the event in The Dartmouth Feb 7th article by Vignesh Chockalingam

Submitted by Alexa Green ’19, Rockefeller Center Student Program Assistant for Public Programs

The views and opinions expressed and any materials presented during a public program are the speaker’s own and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the Rockefeller Center or constitute an endorsement by the Center.

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