Nate Silver uses Excel
... you may have heard of this guy. New York Times blogger Nate Silver used data analysis to accurately predict 2012 election results. In a Reddit Ask Me Anything session, Silver said he uses Stata (which is definitely not analysis "on a shoestring") for his complex work and Excel for the rest, including quick charts for his blogs.
"It isn't that hard to make Excel charts look unExcellish if you take a few minutes and get away from the awful default settings," Silver wrote.