Wednesday, January 11, 2012

On To South Carolina

Over at Plum Line, I go over the possible outcomes in South Carolina and what they would mean going forward.  Bottom line is that it's over unless Santorum (or Perry) wins in South Carolina, or at least comes very close. And that's unlikely for Santorum, and basically implausible for Perry.

I didn't get to it there, but if Santorum wins in South Carolina, I'd say that Romney would then have a 75% chance of winning the nomination, maybe more. If Perry wins, I'd say it's closer to 50/50. However, the odds of Perry winning South Carolina or placing a close second appear to be long indeed; in fact, I think it's more likely that he looks at the numbers today or tomorrow and calls it a day than that he finds some way to revive things. So figure out the chances of Santorum beating Romney in South Carolina, multiply that by maybe 20, 25%, and that's your odds for stopping Romney's coronation. If this were a World Series, Romney is up three games to none, is up a couple runs early in game 4, and is the better team with a well-rested pitching staff ready to go.

By the way, I still don't understand why anyone thinks that Newt Gingrich is more dangerous to Romney than Santorum is.


  1. I have followed your stuff for awhile, and really have enjoyed/benefitted from your analysis. One quick question, though: how do you 'know' that a candidate is unacceptable to party actors? Do you have a measure, or is it a sense/feeling/intuition? I am just trying to understand the distinction between your claims about Gingrich, Paul compared to Romney when it seems there is evidence that Romney is unacceptable to at least some party actors ( Thanks.

  2. Newt stays in the conversation because of residual polling averages. He still "seems" to be in second place in SC. Polls are irresistable manna for the cable news/blogging crowd. They MUST mean something. At least until they change and then we can create a narrative as to why.

  3. Anon,

    Good question. One way is to count endorsements. Another is just to watch what they say. With Romney, it's clear that some party actors were wary of him, but as far as I can see it's only a very small group, mainly within the partisan press, who really have been actively opposed to him. Another thing is to note objective reasons a group might not like a candidate -- e.g. neocons vs. Ron Paul on foreign policy.

    So figuring all that out is more an art than a science, I guess. For a proper academic study, there are several ways you could get at it (counting endorsements, as Cohen et al. did, but you could also use an interviewing process, or gather types of information other than endorsements from public sources). For blogging, I'm pretty comfortable with just applying my judgement about the parties, based on lots of careful attention to them over time, so that (again, for blogging) I'm comfortable with asserting that for example Jim DeMint's endorsement or antipathy is a real big deal.


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