A graphical look at the 2012 GOP nomination

FiveThirtyEight, a New York Times blog run by Nate Silver, has an interesting graphic up describing the 2o12 race for the Republican nomination for President. (Don’t forget to vote in the poll at the left )

His data is based on how well the candidates are trading on Intrade. It’s an interesting graphic, and the analysis is interesting, as well:

With that said, it is exceptionally important to consider how the candidates are positioned relative to one another. Too often, I see analyses of candidates that operate through what I’d call a checkbox paradigm, tallying up individual candidates’ strengths and weaknesses but not thinking deeply about how they will compete with one another for votes. If you like, you can think of the circles on my chart as stars or planets that exert gravitational forces on one another, seeking to clear their own safe space in the galaxy while at the same time stealing matter (voters) from their opponents.

There are two more kinds of information embedded in the chart. First, the area of each candidate’s circle is proportional to their perceived likelihood of winning the nomination, according to the Intrade betting market. Mitt Romney’s circle is drawn many times the size of the one for the relatively obscure talk-radio host Herman Cain because Intrade rates Mr. Romney many times as likely to be nominated.

Finally, the color of each circle reflects the region the candidate is from: blue for the Northeast, red for the South, green for the Midwest, and yellow for the West.

What do you think? Is it an accurate look at the field as it currently stands, or are there other considerations that have not been included?

Be sure to check out Nate’s analysis at his blog before you weigh in. Among other things, he thinks that:

  • Senator John Thune‘s chances are “overrated.”
  • If Sarah Palin gets in, she’ll compete with conservative outsiders like Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, and Jim DeMint for votes.
  • Mitt’s got Jon Huntsman competing with him for votes, not to mention T-Paw and Mitch Daniels
  • and speaking of Tim Pawlenty, his positions are conservative, but his reputation is as a moderate…which makes him hard to peg. Oh, and his personality is “not terribly dynamic.”

Thoughts? Who’s your candidate in 2012?

APROPOS: If you’re pulling for President Obama, one of FiveThirtyEight’s readers left a comment for you on his blog:

I was thinking the same thing. We might, for example, normalize the graph by including President Obama. His circle could be, oh, down the street a few blocks?

(h/t FiveThirtyEight)

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10 responses to “A graphical look at the 2012 GOP nomination

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention A graphical look at the 2012 GOP nomination | What they didn't teach in law school -- Topsy.com

  2. Rob, thanks for your thoughts. Why do you think it is that Gary Johnson hasn’t been able to get any traction yet? And how do you think it bodes for his 2012 chances?

  3. Daniel, I guess that depends on what you mean by traction. The Times article to which I linked above mentions that he does acknowledge that “he’s unknown nationally and hails from a state that has more cactuses than people.” and “To make matters worse, New Mexico. with its five electoral votes, hardly constitutes a broad base from which to launch a winning presidential bid.”

    However, the article also mentions that “Bill Clinton had been the governor of Arkansas, which has about the same population and about the same electoral college clout as New Mexico, when he announced his presidential campaign.”

    • Well, what I guess I mean is: the point of the graphic was to show who is most likely to win the nomination, based on current, however, unreliable, speculation. It’s based on the Intrade site, which is paramount to looking at the odds for any given candidate’s chances in 2012. I know you’re a big Johnson fan, and you have been for a long time–do you think, however, that he stands a chance? What would it take for him to break out?

  4. Seriously. How about that (on the other hand, Ron Paul did get first, and I don’t think that says much about his chances for the WH)?

  5. Pingback: Will he? Should he? | What they don't teach in law school

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