Academic model shows a big win for Mitt Romney this fall

A reader and friend asked me what I thought about a paper out of the University of Colorado projecting a (relatively) big win coming this fall for Mitt Romney in the electoral college, in this Q&A I did yesterday for anything and everything political. he paper, by political science professors Kenneth Bickers and Michael Berry (hereby referred to as the Bickers-Berry model), seems heavily weighted by economic factors and predicts Romney winning every single swing state, for a 320-218 electoral vote victory.

Bickers and Berry are touting their model has correctly predicting every presidential election since 1980, but that’s misleading. This model (as Nate Silver notes below in a Tweet I’ll quote) is a new model, and hasn’t correctly predicted anything yet. It would have predicted past elections if it had existed before each of them took place, but that’s entirely different than claiming that it has already predicted them.

Here’s what I said in a very rushed analysis, without having read the paper:

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Ryan does little to help Romney, poses some risks

Congressmen Paul Ryan

A lot got left out of my analysis of Paul Ryan’s politics, because I thought the best angle to cover early on was one that would probably be ignored by the press, and abused endlessly by unofficial disinterested partisan hacks engaged in campaign warfare.

Oh, he’s such a right-wing radical American Taliban extremist. He’s going to end the world!

Or:

He’s a mainstream moderate and a smart visionary.

Paul Ryan is none of those things.

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Scott Brown (R-MA) introduces bill that could allow Fox News to be banned by the government, Rush Limbaugh to be imprisoned

That’s not the point of the legislation, but that’d be the legal precedent set if it were passed and then upheld by the courts.

The Stolen Valor Act of 2005 was a truly heinous piece of legislation that sought to criminalize lying about military service and achievements, that received wide support from both major political parties and passed the Senate by unanimous consent, before being signed into law by George W. Bush in 2006. No vote in the Senate was required because only a single audible objection would have prevented its passage.

There wasn’t one.

Out of the 100 elected representatives that swore to defend and uphold the Constitution, not one single person voiced an objection to the federal criminalization of lying. As has often become the case with Congress, the worst acts it commits against its citizens and the Constitution are those which enjoy strong bipartisan agreement. Leaders of both parties, in rare acts of cooperation, streamline the process to pass legislation without public hearings or meaningful debate of any kind.

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Ryan a reliably conservative vote, somewhat to the right of the GOP center, very moderate compared to Ron Paul

I’m trying to transition towards non-partisan analysis as we get close to the general election now, especially with the national conventions just a couple of weeks away. Towards that end, I plan to write a story about Paul Ryan next week. Less of what I think of him, and more about what kind of baggage he just added (or didn’t add) to the Romney campaign.

I can tell you right now that I’m not high on this choice. Ryan has very little national name recognition, has never run or won a statewide race, and doesn’t bring enough support with him to put Wisconsin in play. In addition to that non-existent upside, Mitt Romney tried very hard to avoid taking a firm stance on Ryan’s plans for Medicare and Social Security, but now he’s got those plans hung around his neck no matter how long and hard he tries to expel them from his campaign.

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Mitt Romney is in trouble

I’ll finally get my in-depth election analysis up next week, but for now, here are a few things to consider.

Off the top of my head, I only know of four sites that are running electoral college projections. Talking Points Memo, Pollster, CNN, and Real Clear Politics. Each site has its own methodology for assigning states to candidates based on the “safe”, “lean”, and “tossup” categories, and all can be argued with. For example, only TPM has Florida and its 29 electoral votes assigned to a candidate, even though Barack Obama is leading in Florida and has had more leads in polls than Mitt Romney has, in addition to winning Florida in 2008.

None of these sites shows Romney leading in the electoral math, and that is what decides the election.

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