A Virginia Tech political science major is anxiously awaiting Election Day – curious to see if state election predictions he made will come true.
Senior Chaz Nuttycombe launched CNalysis in 2020 – an online election forecasting platform that specializes in state legislative races.
“All politics are local, and state governments are very important,” Nuttycombe said. “It’s a big part of our government that has been generally overlooked.”
The Hanover County native began following and predicting races during high school, and he’s developed a solid following with more than 250,000 visitors and more than 1 million page views to his website. He promotes the site through a Discord channel, newsletters, a podcast and a Twitter, or X, account.
Numerous politicians, analysts, journalists and political fanatics follow his work. He also routinely talks with reporters from media outlets including The New York Times and The Washington Post.
Nuttycombe said he is one of a few analysts in the U.S. who specializes in state legislative elections. His predictions are based on several factors, including demographic and election data, campaign advertisement spending and conversations with sources on both sides of the aisle.
His predictions are based on several factors, including demographic and election data, campaign advertisement spending, and conversations with sources on both sides of the aisle.
In 2017, when he was a high school senior, Nuttycombe made predictions for the Virginia House of Delegates seats up for reelection. Out of 100 seats, he guessed 96 right.
Nuttycombe’s interest in politics dates back as far as age 5 when he told his mom that he wanted to be governor.
“It’s funny. But I would say the first election I remember paying attention to was in 2008. Then, I really paid attention in 2012, and especially since 2016,” he said.
Nicholas Goedert, assistant professor of political science at Virginia Tech, teaches three of Nuttycombe’s courses, including public opinion, political parties and voting and early elections.
Goedert said other students probably don’t know that Nuttycombe has such a national following, because he tends to keep a “pretty low profile” around his election project. He said he was familiar with Nuttycombe’s work and social media presence before becoming his professor.
“I think he’s also carved out a terrific niche for himself in the election projection space,” Goedert said. “There’s a lot of people doing this sort of thing with more experience than him, but almost all of them focus on congressional, statewide and presidential elections. He recognized where the need was very early on, seized on it, and thus has a huge head start to build on in the future.”
The operation is funded by ad revenue as well as by subscriptions and donations, which allows Nuttycombe to compensate his team. CNalysis has a team of eight individuals who are spread out across the country and contribute to editing, design, mapping, data computation and finance, along with other tasks.
On election night, Nuttycombe will have volunteers stationed at registrar offices. His apartment will be packed with friends and staffers as they work to update the website.
“Seeing the work we’re doing reaching tens of thousands of people, if not more, is pretty amazing,” he said.
This election year is shaping up to be interesting for Virginia. Republicans could capture the Senate in a state that, between the years 2012-20, leaned blue. If Republicans retain control of the House, which they won by a 52-to-48 seat majority in 2021, the GOP will have control of both state legislative chambers.
Nuttycombe believes abortion and the economy will be the dominating issues on Virginia’s ballot.
CNalysis is currently forecasting that Democrats will be slight favorites in both chambers.
Following graduation in May, Nuttycombe plans to scale his business by adding new employees and website offerings.
“I love bringing people together to create something really cool,” Nuttycombe said of working with his team. “That’s something I’ve loved doing since I was a kid.”