PredictWise Blog

The obvious takeaway at this early stage of the primary cycle is that the "generic Republican" is a more effective candidate than any specific Republican. In part, that's because there's a bit of a built-in bias in polling for more abstract forms of political allegiance. In these surveys, respondents are registering their reactions to Obama as a known political quantity, with a full array of perceived electoral strengths and weaknesses. Yet for the no-name Republican, "Respondents get to project the person they think is the most electable actual Republican or even an imaginary Republican that is not in the race," as Wharton economist Justin Wolfers has observed.>

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Despite the always-long odds against a Christie run, an actual Christie candidacy would likely create a big impact on the battle for the GOP nomination; even without entering the race, the markets forecast that he had a 10 percent likelihood of winning the nomination. Where did that 10 percent go when confirmed he was not running?

The short answer, shown in the chart above, is that Mitt Romney got most of it, and he got it fast. As Christie quickly headed toward a 1 percent likelihood of attaining the nomination, Romney jumped approximately 10 percentage points--from 45.3 percent to 55.3 percent likelihood, where he is right now. Many people saw Christie as the last major new Romney adversary, and his non-entry may be close the door on any other late challenge to the current field.

A look at the race for the Republican nomination just before and after Christie dropped out:

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Lawmakers in Pennsylvania are considering switching the way the state divides up its electoral votes before the 2012 election. Pennsylvania now gives all of its electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote--the same method that 47 of the other 49 states also use.

Some meaningful things could happen if Pennsylvania chooses the new method under consideration. In 2008, Obama received 55 percent of Pennsylvania's vote and all of the crucial swing state's 21 electoral votes; under the new plan he would have received just 11 of the 21 electoral votes. Since Democratic candidates tend to win their districts by larger margins than the Republicans, a proportional system in more populous states could work to the GOP's advantage in presidential races. There's a strong likelihood that Democratic presidential candidates could win the state's popular vote by rolling up higher margins of victory in dense, urban congressional districts and get less than half of the state's electoral votes.

Click on the attachment below to see how your state matches up between percentage of population and percentage of popular vote.

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If Christie runs, he will immediately be a top contender. Right now the prediction markets give him a 24.5 percent chance to run for President and an 8.0 percent chance to win the Republican nomination. However, should he proceed with a run, my projections suggest that the prediction markets would instantly grant him a 25 to 35 percent likelihood of gaining the nomination.

If Christie does not run, he may lose his moment. The markets are reflecting growing unease in the Republican party over the current crop of candidates. The reason that Romney did not gain all of Perry's strength is that the Republicans are looking for someone to take him on for the nomination. If Christie does not grab this chance, someone else will--former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, for instance, or some other dark horse contender. If Perry continues to falter--and if Christie passes on a 2012 presidential run--the predictions markets suggest that GOP field is still fairly wide open.

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It just gets worse and worse for Govenor Perry of Texas. As the dust settles from Thursday's debate Perry has slid from 38.5 percent likely to be the Republican nominee to 26.4 percent (as of this reposting on Sunday morning):

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