Is Romney Still More Electable Than Santorum?

Political prognosticator Nate Silver still asserts that Mitt Romney has a better chance of defeating President Obama than Rick Santorum does. But according to Silver, the gap in electability between Romney and Santorum is not as wide as one might think.

The forecast model I’ve been using ... suggests that Mitt Romney is likely to fare better than Rick Santorum in the popular vote against Barack Obama. Specifically, the model would give Mr. Romney a 40 percent chance of winning the popular vote against Mr. Obama given G.D.P. growth of 2.5 percent this year (in line with the most recent forecasts), but Mr. Santorum just a 23 percent chance.

Mr. Romney’s comparative advantage in the model is based on a set of four objective indicators of candidate ideology, which suggest that Mr. Santorum is further from the center of the electorate on balance — an unfavorable factor historically.

In fact, the “electability gap” between Mr. Romney and Mr. Santorum that the model posits is not all that great. Specifically, it estimates that Mr. Romney’s more moderate ideology is worth a net of about 3 points in the popular vote — so an election that Mr. Santorum would win by 4 points, Mr. Romney would win by 7. The reason it looks bigger in terms of their respective odds against Mr. Obama is because the election is still projected to be fairly close over all, in which case any small advantage or disadvantage can be meaningful.

The point is simply that this is a debatable case — more so, say, than a comparison of Mr. Romney and Newt Gingrich might be. Also, a party is within its rights to consider factors above and beyond electability. A small additional chance of losing the general election to Mr. Obama might be deemed an acceptable risk if Republicans think Mr. Santorum would be more reliably conservative once in office.

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@newtonslawpc retweeted @PoliticalQB 2012-02-16 13:34:57 -0500
Is Romney Still More Electable Than Santorum? - #TCOT #GOP
@FordOConnell retweeted @PoliticalQB 2012-02-16 13:18:30 -0500
Is Romney Still More Electable Than Santorum? - #TCOT #GOP
published this page in In The News 2012-02-16 13:15:00 -0500
Analysis & Political Strategy