Wednesday, January 11, 2012

NH Trivia (And: Getting It Wrong)

Looks as if they've now reached a full vote count in New Hampshire, and Newt Gingrich stayed in 4th place -- only 49 votes better than Rick Santorum.

This is, of course, exactly as I predicted, except for the part in which I said Santorum would be 3rd or better instead of 5th. Which is the reason for this mostly post...I muffed this one badly, repeatedly, and I very much want to be quite up front about it when I do that. I did mention it earlier in passing, but it deserves it's own post. I mostly feel that my track record so far during the nomination process has been okay, and I think my overall Iowa reactions (that it was then  basically down to a two-candidate race, with Romney having a very large advantage) was just fine. But this particular analysis was dead wrong.

As long as I'm at it...I can't remember whether I've talked about this here or not, but I should have been more careful about lumping all the implausible nominees together. I actually had thought about this way back when, but never wrote it out at the time, which meant that what I was saying wasn't as helpful in understanding what was going on as it should have been. In particular, I should have made a distinction about different ways candidates could be implausible nominees. The distinction which has sort-of turned out to matter is that some candidates are implausible because of the incredibly unlikely chances they have of breaking out of the pack, while others are implausible because even if they did that, important party groups would act to veto them. As I've said over the last couple of weeks, I think Rick Santorum is basically in that first group -- as Ezra Klein said, the fact that Santorum surged only after everyone else had a turn was a real indication of just how poor a candidate he was. But having improbably broken from the pack, Santorum became, while still a very weak candidate (in part because of how late in the day he broke through, but in part because of the weaknesses that made that happen), couldn't be in my view completely written off. That contrasts sharply with Ron Paul, or Newt Gingrich, or Herman Cain, none of whom would have been plausible nominees even if their surges had been better timed.

Anyway, that last one was just insufficiently careful blogging (my excuse? I try to keep these things short. Really). But the other one, Santorum in New Hampshire...that one I was just dead wrong about.

3 comments:

  1. I don’t think it’s that big a mistake all things considered. How many thousand of words have been devoted to how Mittens was doomed? How many columns and opeds have been written about how Huntsman was going to win? How many predictions that Newt’s final greatest comeback was just around the bend have been made? Compared to other “experts” (including a whole lot of those smart kids on intrade over the past few months) you’re doing just fine.

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  2. I was looking over the New Hampshire exit polls at the Washington Post 2012 tracker yesterday, and was struck by a observation that I think has escaped most political junkies. Look at the income levels of the Republican voters in New Hampshire! 74% report that their income is over $50,000, and 37% make over $100,000! Among these high net worth individuals, Romney took 48%. Among the relatively scarce peons who make less than $50,000, Romney attracted 31%.

    I don't know off the top of my head what the income distribution among Americans is today, but I'm pretty sure these numbers are skewed to the wealthy. If low-income Republicans are this unenthused about their candidate, it bodes poorly for the general election.

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