Friday, January 27, 2012

The Polls Are Coming in for Mr. Romney; The Debate is Coming in For Mr. Romney; Florida is Likely to Come In for Mr. Romney

You Were Warned – Pay No Attention to Polls Until Now

[Upate:  Here is Nate Silver's post debate take, which reinforces the message of this Post: 

Mr. Romney, who performed well in the Thursday debate, can thank his new debate coach, Brett O’Donnell. But he can also thank Mr. Gingrich, who acted as though he was content to settle for second place. Recent history has shown that candidates who act that way usually get their wish.

Mr. Gingrich has performed so poorly in the state of Florida and Mr. Romney has pandered so effectively that Mr. Silver raises the possibility of a 20 point defeat for Mr. Gingrich, and even a possible, but not likely third place finish.  Note to Mr. Gingrich, when Nate Silver starts forecasting a defeat, candidates start writing their concession speeches.]

When this Forum posted the following message after the South Carolina primary

“It will take at least until the end of next week before reliable polls in Florida can be generated.  You can use any polls released between now and then to line the bird cage.”

it was a serious statement, to be disregarded at one’s peril. But pundits did disregard it, and talked about how Mr. Gingrich was ahead and likely to win the Florida primary that will take place Tuesday.

That does not look like a good bet.  First of all Mr. Romney must have spent 30 out of the last 24 hours preparing for the Thursday debate, and Mr. Gingrich, like Mr. Romney has that glass jaw and so is having to take a pummeling.  But even before the debate the polls are now showing Mr. Romney to be the clear favorite, a finding that has been blessed by the one person whose blessing means something, Nate Silver of the New York Times.

Notice Mr. Gingrich is about right where he
was the day before South Carolina

In Wednesday’s Florida polling update, I wrote that it seemed reasonably clear that Newt Gingrich’s momentum had stalled out in the state. And you could make a pretty good case that the trend had actually reversed itself, and that polling now appeared to favor Mitt Romney again.

Now that case is even clearer. Three polls released since the last update — from Rasmussen Reports, InsiderAdvantage and Monmouth University — each show Mr. Romney with a lead in Florida by margins of seven to eight percentage points. These join two previous polls — from CNN and the American Research Group — that detailed their results by the date of the interview, and found Mr. Romney leading Mr. Gingrich among respondents surveyed after Monday night’s debate.

Notice the short lived bump for Mr. Gingrich right after South Carolina.  Short term results are not very reliable, and as the chart shows, totally unreliable in this case.

Mr. Silver still has to hedge his bet, as well he should since the data is still new and rather raw, but his conclusion is valid.

Although Mr. Gingrich could still easily win Florida, he could just as easily lose there by double digits.

And how could that win happen? 

First, Mr. Gingrich would need to perform strongly in Thursday’s debate. Previous debates have produced overnight shifts of 10 or more points in the polls, so a single-digit lead for Mr. Romney is not safe.

Okay, that didn’t happen, so in a day or two Mr. Silver will firm up his prediction. 

Say goodnight Newt, those I-4 corridor voting results are coming for you (political insiders stuff).

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