Monday, February 27, 2012

Patterns in the Republican Primaries?

Mark Murray oversimplifies the course of the Republican nomination race in his piece over at First Read today.
Just when it looks like Romney is about pull away with the nomination, he loses. And just when it appears that his back is against the wall and when he needs a win, he does.
Look FHQ is all for parsimonious hypotheses, but Murray is doing a little narrative setting here. If only we can just get some Romney wins tomorrow, we'll be set up nicely for a story about Romney underperforming next week on Super Tuesday. The simple truth of the matter is that it is a foregone conclusion that Romney will underperform on some level next week. And the reasoning is just as seemingly simplistic as the misguided pattern above.

1) Regional patterns
I don't think we have enough total data on this yet, but FHQ is still fairly confident in saying that the South is a problem area for Romney (see South Carolina), but that the northeast is comparatively stronger for the former Massachusetts governor. Will Romney have some setbacks in the South next week? Yes, I would say that he will in the wins and losses columns. However, the fact that only Paul and Romney are on the ballot in Virginia means that Romney is well-positioned to use the Old Dominion as a delegate cache to neutralize any delegate losses suffered in Georgia, Oklahoma and Tennessee. The big question mark at this time is the midwest. There has yet to be a midwestern primary -- until Michigan -- from which we will have the ability to project onto subsequent midwestern primaries like Ohio on Super Tuesday. From the look of it, Michigan -- and perhaps the rest of the midwest -- will be competitive.

2) Contest/Organization patterns
Romney does well in primaries. Romney does better in primaries in which he can bank early votes (see Florida and Arizona). Romney does well in caucus states in which he has organized (see Iowa and Nevada). Romney does poorly in caucuses in which he has not organized or not organized as much relative to those early caucuses.

What does this all mean for Super Tuesday? It means Romney is very likely to well where there is some overlap between these two patterns: northeastern primaries.  It also means that Romney likely won't do well where there is no overlap: either in the South (except Virginia) and in the caucus states where he has no clear advantage.

The bottom line is that Romney, win or lose tomorrow, will suffer setbacks next week.

...and it has very little to with a the surge and decline theory proffered by Mr. Murray.

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1 comment:

astrojob said...

Even though we only have a limited sample of states to look at so far, in terms of finding patterns in the 2012 results, you can find some clear patterns by looking at the county level.

Here's an interesting analysis showing an anti-correlation between Huckabee 2008 primary numbers and Romney 2012 primary numbers on a county-by-county basis: