What can we learn from the Weekly Rasmussen Poll?

October 25, 2007

An interesting theory about the Republican contest

Yesterday, I added to my position on John McCain so that I have a relatively large part of my bankroll resting on both John McCain and Fred Thompson. I did this because I think that the true probability of John McCain winning the Republican nomination is about 15%, and is certainly higher than the 7.4 that I was able to buy at. I have to admit that, after studying the polls, my previous estimation that John McCain was only 10% likely to win the nomination was a bit too pessimistic. This is not because of the frequent press speculation that, ‘McCain is back’, the positive words said about him recently in magazines like the American Spectator or because I think that he is the strongest candidate Instead, this comes from a new theory I have about the race.

Earlier this year the political analyst Dick Morris came up with the idea that the early Republican primaries were a semi-final that would narrow the pack, but not decide the race. I have to admit that I was sceptical, until I saw several interesting patterns in the weekly national tracking polls since Mike Huckabee entered the contest. Firstly, if you correlate McCain’s and Giuliani’s votes you get a negative correlation of -0.6, suggesting that they are fishing for the same pool of voters. Similarly, if you add McCain’s and Giuliani’s votes together to get a ‘centrist’ bloc, and do the same for Thompson, Romney and Huckabee to get a ‘conservative’ bloc, you find that the ‘Conservative’ share of the vote since August is around 38-44% and the Centrist bloc is 32-39%. Both blocs seem to be stable, with a low weekly variance of around 2%.

So, what does this mean for the contest? Well, it means that both McCain and Thompson have made a big mistake by letting themselves be outflanked on the left and right respectively. It also means that Giuliani hasn’t become popular per se, it is just that McCain is siphoning less votes from his candidacy than Romney or Huckabee are from Thompson. It also suggests that McCain can knock Giuliani of the contest by beating him in Iowa while can Thompson do the same to Romney and Huckabee. So, one possible scenario is that Thompson wins the Iowa primary with Huckabee second, Romney third, McCain fourth and Giuliani fifth. Giuliani and Romney drop out while Huckabee is mortally wounded (if he can’t win in Iowa where can he win)? The race then becomes a two-way contest between Thompson and McCain with New Hampshire and South Carolina deciding the contest.

However, it is important to retain some perspective. McCain might be the best candidate and it is possible that he will pick up the pieces if Giuliani fails. However, he currently has to run his campaign on funds borrowed against his general election money (some of the money that he raised can only be used in the general election because it was over the donation limit for the primaries. It should also be remembered that if Iowa is two contests, for the centrist and conservative crowns, then it is imperative that McCain make sure that he finishes ahead of Giuliani there, otherwise his candidacy, at least for the Republican nomination, will be effectively over. The burden of expectations is not so high for Thompson because he merely needs to finish ahead of Romney.

McCain also need to demonstrate that he is still a centrist in principle and that he is prepared to reach out to Democrats and Independents, possibly by demonstrating that he willing to roll back some of Bush’s more egregious tax cuts for the wealthy. His campaign is also partially dependant on Romney and Thompson continuing their attack on Giuliani. McCain should also make sure that he keeps on the radar of the media and so doesn’t fall back into single figures. It also goes without saying that McCain needs to keep the faith on Iraq, and avoids the ‘declare victory and get out’ trap that some on the right seem to falling into. Even if the McCain supporter who posted in the comments section of the previous post that, ‘what McCain lacks in money, he makes up for in effort’, is true, the effort still needs to be directed correctly.

Update (28/10) When I posted I typed (for some strange reason) that ‘Thompson wins the Iowa primary with Huckabee second, McCain third and Giuliani fourth and Romney fifth’. As a poster pointed out, this is clearly nonsense, so I’ve amended it to what I wanted to say.



  1. […] post by thepoliticaltipster This was written by . Posted on Thursday, October 25, 2007, at 7:21 am. Filed under […]

  2. Have you even looked at the polls??

    McCain to win over Romney AND Thompson to beat Romney in I-O-W-A!? The likelihood of that is far less than 1%.

    Here is how it will go down:
    Romney will win the two first states, Giuliani will start his trail to the nominee-pos in South C and continue to win by a landslide in FLA – case closed.

  3. You reminded me that I should have put Giuliani and McCain behind Romney. Apart from that I stand by my possible scenario (though I emphasise that it is only a possible scenario).

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