Sunday, February 12, 2012

Nate Silver is Wrong

Bet you didn't think you'd hear me say that.

Last night, Nate said that Romney's victory in Maine does help him. He said this on the basis that it will affect the media narrative (which is all about how Romney is in trouble) and engender momentum. He explains:
Yes, Mr. Romney’s margin of victory — 196 votes — was not overwhelming. But the fact is that Mr. Romney can very much use some favorable news of any kind, given how poorly he did last Tuesday.

Consider the alternative: if Mr. Romney had lost the state by 196 votes, the narrative might have been that Mr. Romney’s campaign was falling apart. That might or might not have been fair to Mr. Romney, but I think it’s possible that’s how it would have been perceived. People like to see patterns in the data, and the pattern would have looked like a bad one for his campaign.
Let's put aside the fact that not all of Maine has yet participated (Nate followed up with a post looking at whether Paul could conceivably win) (and let's put aside that Romney won by 194 votes, not 196). Does Romney's 194-vote victory generate favorable news and create momentum?

Sorry, no. First, the results were announced on a Saturday night which helps bury the story of this runaway victory. Second, the story was easily overshadowed by Whitney Houston's death and the Grammy Awards this weekend. Third, if you think the lead political story in the morning will be Romney's 3-point victory in Maine, try this tweet from PPP on for size:
Barring some big shift in tonight's calls Santorum will be up by 10-15 on the Michigan poll
PPP will be releasing their full MI poll in the morning. Or try this tweet from PPP:
Gingrich dropping out would be worth 7 pts on the margin to Santorum, Mitt better hope he stays in:
That's nationally folks. I'll take either of those as newsworthy over Willard's romp through Maine.

Yes Nate, losing Maine would have been worse for Romney but when we get to the point that the lack of a disaster is "helping" Romney, he's got problems that the state of Maine just can't fix. Romney needs the narrative to change and Maine won't do it. If he has a great debate or if he wins in Arizona and Michigan in the lead-up to Super Tuesday, that could work. Michigan is starting to look dicey for him. I wonder if anyone will remember how Romney opposed the auto bailout???

UPDATE: PPP has Santorum up by 15 in Michigan, very similar to results nationally. ARG (though I don't trust their polls much) has a poll out this morning that has Santorum ahead by 6. In this case, I'd tend to believe the real numbers are closer to ARG's but it is clear that, at least temporarily, Romney is behind in one of his 43 "home states."


Russ deForest said...

I think Gingrich and Santorum both find Romney a more tolerable candidate than one another. Santorum has to prefer Romney on moral grounds, while Newt certainly understands that Santorum is insane.

Larry Becker said...

I don't think so actually. Gingrich HATES Romney and has gone out of his way to praise Santorum. As for what Santorum thinks, I don't know for sure but he's spending his limited resources attacking Romney at this point.