2012 GOP Chart

I saw this chart on a random blog I visited.  Check it out:

Courtesy FiveThirtyEight

At his blog FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver explains what this chart means:

One can certainly debate exactly what it means to be a moderate or a conservative, and exactly where any particular candidate falls along this spectrum. Likewise, the insider/outsider dimension is somewhat blurry: is a potential candidate like Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina, who aligns himself with the Tea Party but is also an influential senator, a part of the Republican establishment or an opponent of it? So my placement of the candidates is necessarily approximate.

With that said, it is exceptionally important to consider how the candidates are positioned relative to one another. Too often, I see analyses of candidates that operate through what I’d call a checkbox paradigm, tallying up individual candidates’ strengths and weaknesses but not thinking deeply about how they will compete with one another for votes. If you like, you can think of the circles on my chart as stars or planets that exert gravitational forces on one another, seeking to clear their own safe space in the galaxy while at the same time stealing matter (voters) from their opponents.

There are two more kinds of information embedded in the chart. First, the area of each candidate’s circle is proportional to their perceived likelihood of winning the nomination, according to the Intrade betting market. Mitt Romney’s circle is drawn many times the size of the one for the relatively obscure talk-radio host Herman Cain because Intrade rates Mr. Romney many times as likely to be nominated.

(I should note that there are several cases in which I am in considerable disagreement with the bettors at Intrade about the viability of each candidate. But using their figures as the basis for drawing the circles at least lends some objectivity to the assessment.)

I have excluded candidates like Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey or Jeb Bush of Florida who have strongly denied any interest in running in 2012, even though some of them trade at nonzero values on Intrade.

Finally, the color of each circle reflects the region the candidate is from: blue for the Northeast, red for the South, green for the Midwest, and yellow for the West.

I don’t completely agree with this chart or Mr. Silver’s analysis about the GOP field, but you should go to his blog and read the full post.

Administrative Bulletin: I’ll be starting my series on the 2012 GOP Nomination battle very soon.

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