Food for Republican Thought From Nate Silver

By Robert Wright

I just stumbled on a chart put together by Nate Silver back in August of 2011, before he was as celebrated/notorious as he is today, and before Republicans had decided who their presidential candidate would be. This chart has a more subjective basis than most of Silver's graphics, but I think it's useful. In particular, as I'll explain below, I think it's a good Rorschach test for Republicans as they continue to ponder the meaning of their electoral defeat. (Color refers to the region the candidates are from, and the size of each circle represents their popular support as measured by polls.)

SilverGraph.JPG

Here are some Republican reactions to this I can imagine:

[1] See, we chose a candidate who was far, far from our party's center of gravity, and look what happened! We need to be truer to our creed!

[2] Look at how much space there is between Romney and the bulk of the field. Maybe we just need to find someone to fill that space--someone who is moderate but not that moderate.

[3] The problem isn't where Romney was on Silver's mid-2011 graph. The problem is that, to secure the nomination, he had to migrate toward those other circles and lock himself into positions too conservative for the general election. (As David Frum put it in a tweet today, "The people who tied the cement overshoes to Mitt's feet will now blame him for sinking.") Our party needs a nomination process that doesn't suck candidates so far to the right.

And so on... Feel free to add your own interpretation in the comments section below. And check out Silver's original post to see versions of this graphic that show where people like Chris Christie would have belonged had they thrown their hats into the ring.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/11/food-for-republican-thought-from-nate-silver/265013/