Nate Silver, the data analyst who predicted with astonishing accuracy the outcome of the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections for The New York Times, has been persuaded to jump ship and join ESPN/ABC, where he will expand his FiveThirtyEight.com blog (named for the number of electoral votes) into sports, weather, economics and, of course, the Oscars. Politico.com reported over the weekend that the Times's efforts to keep Silver part of its team had become such a high priority that publisher and chairman Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr. and CEO Mark Thompson were involved in the negotiations. (According to Adweek, in The Days leading up to last year's election, Silver's FiveThirtyEight blog accounted for one of five visits to NYTimes.com.) However, said Politico, Silver, who first made his name with forecasts for Major League Baseball players, still loves sports. At times, he felt unwelcome in the Times Sports section, and seemed to struggle to fit into its culture. The section is among the most innovative at the paper, but not in the areas that are Silver's wheelhouse. Today's (Monday) New Republic described The Deal as the juiciest free agent signing since Lebron James bolted for Miami three years ago.