Hello Everyone,

Late last night, after sending # 71, I read Nate Silver’s piece in the New York Times on Cong. Ryan’s selection.

As many of you know, Mr. Silver writes the FiveThirtyEight blog for the Times. Its title is derived from the total number of electoral votes available in a presidential election, the winner needing 270 to reach a majority. (Incidentally, as a University of Chicago trustee, I’m proud that Mr. Silver is a member of the Class of 2000.)

We agree that Gov. Romney probably made this risky selection because he thought he was behind and had to take a very uncharacteristic chance: “When is it rational to take a big risk?…When a prudent candidate like Mr. Romney picks someone like Cong. Paul Ryan…as his running mate, it suggests that he felt he held a losing position against President Obama… [My model], as of Friday [the day before the announcement], estimated that Mr. Obama was about a 70 percent favorite to win re-election. Betting markets and bookmakers [Gov. Romney may give some credence to such ‘markets’]…have also had Mr. Obama ahead, generally giving him between a 60 and a 65 percent chance of winning a second term.” This seems to be a repeat of McCain-Palin in 2008 as I wrote about at that time and harkened back to in # 71.

The full FiveThirtyEight column is attached.

We also seem to agree on polls: “Polls are imperfect instruments, especially at a time when even the best pollsters struggle to get more than 10 percent of Americans to return their calls.”

Mr. Silver goes on to say that Mr. Ryan is a risky choice because his politics are extreme: “… there is evidence that presidential candidates who have more ‘extreme’ ideologies (closer to the left wing or the right wing than the electoral center) underperform relative to the economic fundamentals…Various statistical measures of Mr. Ryan peg him as being quite conservative. Based on his Congressional voting record, for instance, the statistical system DW-Nominate evaluates him as being roughly as conservative as Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota…Mr. Ryan is the most conservative Republican member of Congress to be picked for the vice-presidential slot since at least 1900.”

It is confirming to read someone who is much more knowledgeable than I am arguing that this risky VP pick was made because Gov. Romney believes he’s far behind in the race. Just like the seeming rationale behind Sen. McCain’s “game changing” pick of Gov. Palin in 2008. Very different candidates; very similar rationales.

This does have a feeling of being “too good to be true,” however. Time will tell if it is.

Please, as always, pass it on.  And, remember that previous Obamagrams are stored on www.obamagrams.com


adobe pdf file                               A Risky Rationale Behind Romney’s Choice of Ryan – FiveThirtyEight – NYT – 8-11-12


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