Monday, September 3, 2012

What we learned from Romney's selection of Paul Ryan as VP

Regular readers of this blog know that I tried to do power rankings for the vice-presidential nominee, in an effort to devise a way to successfully predict who would be named as vice-president.  We were hoping for a system that would lead itself for replication.  I didn't have Paul Ryan high on our last power rankings, precisely for the reasons we're seeing now.  But I did say by naming Ryan he would be focusing on economic issues and the budget.

ANYWAYS, we're going to review our performance and how we might improve on this task in the future.

1. We'll do a better job updating.

It was supposed to be a weekly series that was supposed to focus on the various issues of the various vice-presidential candidates, as well as an update on the chances of the different candidates.  Due to a busy schedule of the author and the sheer number of words that needed to be typed to explain the probabilities of the different candidates, it was difficult to update every week.

2. We'll look to various futures prediction sites, such as Intrade.

Intrade which runs various odds on political futures, such as vice-president nominees, future presidential candidates.  They announced at least a day in advance that Paul Ryan was at least theplurality favorite to be named the Republican nominee for vice-president.  Paying attention to these prediction sites might lead to a more accurate prediction from us in the future.

3. While we'll continue to utilize other sources in order to generate these rankings, we will not become a slave to the rankings.

The initial vice-president power rankings was drawn from my own knowledge of politics without the use of other sources.  This list managed to include Paul Ryan, Kelly Ayotte, among others.  The second power rankings was drawn from sources including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post.  My initial list left off Rob Portman but those drawn from other sources listed him as the heavy favorite.  I did follow in their steps to put Portman at or near the top of my list.  This ended up being a false trail, but it was a fun journey.  The problem is that I try to strike a careful balance between my own opinions as opposed to be the regurgitation of someone else's research.  While these rankings are subjective, if I read reports of a certain person being a favorite, I have to make a choice between it being factual and a false trail.  You can look at the ranking of Tim Pawlenty, as an example.  In the future, I may have added emphasis on my own opinions.  At the very least, if I am wrong, I can be more proud of trying something new.

4. Identifying the factors critical to the nominee

In this case, the only thing Mitt Romney said was that his candidate would be pro-life.  Romney's aide stated that they would look for diversity with the nominee.  While we all know that Ryan does not bring diversity to the table, really, there are other critical factors in the decision.  In our write-up, we noted that a Ryan selection would be focusing on the economy and the budget while making a Northern strategy.  So far, it seems to be what Romney is focusing.  Of course, there were other avenues that we mentioned, such as a Rubio nomination would focus on immigration, Portman on foreign policy, and Ayotte on women's issues.  Accurately predicting what issues would be critical to a campaign has multiple benefits, including making the prediction process more accurate.

5. Attempting to measure an impact of the vice-president nominee.

Historically, the presidential nominee receives a bounce of a couple points when he/she names the vice-president nominee.  The vice-president is historically good for about a 2% boost in his/her home state, higher or lower based on favorability measures.  We can look at favorability ratings on each of the various candidates and their potential impact, for better predictions.  This is true to an extent, but still might not have moved Ryan higher on the list, based on his low favorability numbers.  But I might have had the right process down, which was focusing on swing states.

6. Political career of the vice-president nominee

I wonder a) if Rubio was offered the vice-presidential nominee, b) how much of an impact this might have had on his political career c) if this potential impact might have persuaded the Romney team not to offer him the position.  This issue might have been specific to this particular campaign but might serve us well to look at in the future.

7. Relying on historical precedents, well sort of.

If you read the power rankings, you know, that a presidential ticket is rarely made up of two governors.  These historical precedents served us well.  But Ryan was named as a member of the House of Representatives, which hasn't happened in some time. We'll continue to look at precedents in order to make better predictions in the future.

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