Monday, August 20, 2012

Nate Silver on Romney's VP pick

As you know, in election years I like to check in on Nate Silver's blog FiveThirtyEight, (eg here, here, and here) which is consistent, clear, interesting and well written. He's doing a particularly interesting job relating the impact of Romney's pick of Paul Ryan as a running mate. There have been a lot of theories for the pick floating around: Ryan is a Washington insider, he'll bring out the base, he understands the budget issues. (And don't forget to read Samuel Popkin's take on James Fallows' blog, here.)

I'm a numbers person, so I would have gone for someone who I thought might help me in a swing state, like Florida or Ohio. That means someone from a swing state who is popular in the state. Here's Silver's analysis of the likely VP choices as of August 8:
According to Silver, Florida, Ohio and Virginia are in play (as of now); Wisconsin and New Mexico are leaning Democratic. Silver says:
 Five candidates stood out as having especially strong positive ratings with their home-state voters. These were Mr. McDonnell of Virginia, along with Govs. Susana Martinez of New Mexico, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Brian Sandoval of Nevada, and Senator John Thune of South Dakota. The ratings for Mr. Christie and Mr. Rubio were also fairly strong.

Another of Mr. Romney’s potential choices, Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, drew more mixed reactions. Although Mr. Ryan should win his home district, pollsters who tested his numbers throughout Wisconsin found more tenuous results, with 38 percent of voters giving him a positive rating and 33 percent a negative one.
Silver's model predicts (remember, this is as of August 8) that the pick of Ryan would increase Romney's chances of winning the Electoral College by 0.1%. That's not much.

You can read Silver's analysis of the bounce Ryan gave the ticket last week here. His bottom line? The bounce was "below-average." But, as Silver points out, the bounce now is not what's important. "If Mr. Romney makes a one-point advancement in the polls and holds it permanently from his selection of Mr. Ryan, then this would count as a successful vice presidential selection: a one-point shift in the polls is actually fairly meaningful given how close this race is."

And today, after giving it some thought, Silver argues that the selection, and the outcome, will give us some insight into the country's longer term political shifts. Read the post - the bottom line in particular is pretty interesting in the context of the full discussion.

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