The race for the Republican Presidential nomination has changed so much in the past week that it is hard to keep up. I enjoy reading Nate Silver’s NY Times blog when I have a chance. A week ago (Jan 16) he wrote a post entitled “National Polls Suggest Romney is Overwhelming Favorite for GOP Nomination, where he noted that Romney had a 19 point lead in the polls. He wrote
Just how safe is a 19-point lead at this point in the campaign? Based on historical precedent, it is enough to all but assure that Mr. Romney will be the Republican nominee.
Silver compared the average size of the lead following the New Hampshire primary across the past 20+ years of Presidential campaigns. He sorted the results according to decreasing “Size of Lead” the top candidate had in the polls. The image below is from Silver’s blog, where it suggests that Romney has this race all but wrapped up.
It looks almost impossible for Romney to blow it. I stopped following the election news until Gingrich surged ahead and the recount in Iowa led to Santorum winning the caucus.
A mere week later, it looks like Romney’s campaign is in serious trouble. Today (Jan 23), Silver wrote a post entitled “Some Signs GOP Establish Backing Romney is Tenuous.” His forecasting model for the Florida primary on January 31 now predicts that Newt Gingrich has an 81% chance of winning. This is largely because Silver weighs “momentum” in his model, which Gingrich has in spades.
Two months ago, I blogged about how Obama will win the election next year. I was only half-serious about my prediction. Although the model seems to work, it is based on historical trends that may not sway voters today. Plus, I had no idea who the Republican nominee would be. Despite my prediction, I certainly envisioned a tight race that Obama could lose. Not so much these days.
A lot has changed in the past week (and certainly in the past two months!)
My question is, what models are useful for making predictions in the Republican race? Will the issue of “electability” ever become important to primary voters?