Blog Posts by David Rothschild, Yahoo! News

  • Romney falls below 50 percent, Gingrich still charging

    On Thursday Mitt Romney fell below 50 percent likelihood to attain the Republican nomination for the first time since Oct. 3.

    The chart shows the likelihood of attaining the nomination for the four leading candidates since Thanksgiving morning. A slight downward trend for Romney turned into a downward slide directly following Sunday's Union Leader endorsement of Newt Gingrich, shown with the purple line:

    Likelihood of Republican Nomination for President_Dec 1

    Gingrich is in increasing control of Iowa, where he is 59.0 percent likely to win to Romney's 16.7 percent likelihood, and South Carolina, where he is 58.4 percent likely to win to Romney's 25.5 percent likelihood.

    Florida is the most hotly contested state between the two frontrunners. A recent poll has Gingrich 21 points ahead of Romney, but a single poll is a volatile data source in a primary election. The prediction markets give Gingrich 53 percent to Romney's 40 percent, which is the closest of the early primary contests.

    Yet, Romney is still the most likely Republican nominee; he

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  • Payroll tax debate has 2012 implications

    The debate in Congress over an extension of the payroll tax reduction has large implications for the 2012 election.

    The payroll tax, which pays for Social Security, is currently 4.2 percent for employees and 6.2 percent for employers. The permanent rate for employees is 6.2 percent, but it is under a temporary reduction. Democrats have put forward a bill to lower the payroll tax for employees to 3.1 percent. Employers would pay 3.1 percent of the first $5 million and 6.2 percent of the portion over $5 million.

    The income tax is the most prominent of American taxes. As recently as this spring, presidential hopeful Rick Perry called for the repeal of the 16th Amendment, which enables the federal government to impose an income tax. In response to Occupy Wall Street's slogan emphasizing the wealth and income of the top "1%", conservatives organized a response emphasizing the "53%". This slogan refers to the fact that 47 percent of American families no longer pay income taxes. Starting in

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  • People are starting to bet on Gingrich

    Newt Gingrich has had a strong two days, moving from long-shot to viable long-shot in his bid for the Republican nomination.

    The prediction markets now give him a 24.6 percent likelihood of the nomination, still trailing Mitt Romney who has a 57.4 percent likelihood of the nomination.

    The chart shows the likelihood of winning the nomination for the four most likely candidates during the past week. Ron Paul at 5.5 percent and Jon Huntsman at 4.9 percent continued to jockey for third place in the hope of becoming the next anyone-but-Romney candidate. Romney had a slow downward trajectory all week, but Gingrich had a slight upward trend all week before rocketing up late morning Sunday into Monday.

    Likelihood of Republican Nomination for President_Nov28

    The Union Leader endorsement of Gingrich came a few hours before his surge in the prediction markets. The endorsement itself, from the very conservative paper, is not extremely strong. The paper starts its final paragraph with, "Newt Gingrich is by no means the perfect candidate." Further, the

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  • Why Newt Gingrich is a different type of anyone-but-Romney candidate

    The 2012 Republican debates may not yield much policy substance, but they have not lacked for carnage and intrigue. Over the course of the early debates, a string of anyone-but-Romney contenders has arisen--and just as rapidly dropped from the top tier. Newt Gingrich, a seasoned politician, comes across as steady and commanding in debates; and his first performance as front-runner in Tuesday's CNN national-security forum, he sidestepped the debate pitfalls that had disarmed his past anyone-but-Romney rivals Michele Bachmann and (especially) Rick Perry.

    As you'll recall, Bachmann--who enjoyed a burst of early momentum thanks to her surprise win in the Iowa straw poll-- lost significant polling ground in the wake of her remarks regarding the HPV vaccine during and following a mid-September debate. For many early primary GOP voters and political insiders, that episode suggested that she is uniformed and careless in discussing policy. She stated that she met a woman who "told her [that]

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  • Gingrich and Romney hold steady last week as Huntsman and Paul wait for chance

    The 2012 GOP field continues to be a study in Newt-mentum. After Michelle Bachmann and Herman Cain did early tours atop the polls as anyone-but-Romney candidates for conservative voters, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has moved into that slot in the past few weeks. The question for him, as with his predecessors, is whether he can hold on to his lead position.

    There's already some initial indication that he cannot. For example, during his first week atop the polls Gingrich fielded an unwelcome series of news reports on his close ties to the mortgage giant Freddie Mac--an awkward revelation for his campaign, since Gingrich had repeatedly called out Freddie Mac and its sister company Fannie Mae for what he contends is the lenders' culpability for the 2008 mortgage meltdown. The press--and rival campaigns have also stepped up scrutiny of Gingrich's checkered personal life, a factor that could jeopardize his appeal among social-conservative voters.

    But even as the former Speaker has

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  • Shift in national popular polls favors Obama

    President Barack Obama is now leading in polls against each of the individual Republican opponents he may face on Election Day. And for the first time in months, Obama is leading against a "generic Republican" opponent. It's true that polls conducted 350 days before an election have very little predictive power--but they are a meaningful indicator of the public mood as the primary season lurches into gear.

    The chart below shows the percentage of poll respondents who say they'd vote for Obama against each potential opponent in a head-to-head match up. I created the data using Real Clear Politics' aggregated trends research. On average, more than 90 percent of the respondents select one of the two candidates; others decline the choice, or say they're undecided.

    Polling for Select Republicans Against Obama

    Obama is leading in the equivalent of a landslide against Newt Gingrich (54.6 percent) and Herman Cain (55.1 percent). He also performs well against two other Republican challengers not shown on the chart: Rick Perry (55.0 percent), Michele Bachman (58.1 percent), Jon Huntsman (55.3 percent) and Ron Paul (53.3 percent).  For comparison, in 2008 Obama won with 53.8 percent of the votes that went to either Obama or John McCain--a margin strong enough for a convincing win in the only presidential tally that matters: the breakdown of votes in the Electoral College.

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  • A bad bet? Freddie and Newt make markets cautious

    Polls and prediction markets have Newt Gingrich moving up in the Republican field, but they conflict.

    The polls have Gingrich moving towards first place with 17.6 in Real Clear Politics' latest aggregated trend, while Herman Cain is falling fast and Mitt Romney is staying steady.

    The prediction markets, such as Betfair and Intrade, have Gingrich solidifying his second place standing at 15.3 percent likelihood to win the Republican nomination, but well below Romney at 68.5 percent likelihood.

    Polls describe the world as it is today and prediction markets describe the world on Election Day. The chart below shows how they vary over the last 10 days and the news over Gingrich's involvement with Freddie Mac is a perfect illustration of why they differ.

    Polling and Likelihood of Republican Nomination on Nov 16

    Gingrich and many Republicans allies blame the Great Recession on Fannie and Freddie and tie leading Democrats to their actions. Throughout the 2008 campaign and into the 2012 campaign, Gingrich argued that Fannie and Freddie, a unique

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  • Last week was good for Newt Gingrich in prediction markets

    Newt Gingrich (AP)Newt Gingrich watched two rivals stumble last week and came out the winner in the prediction markets.

    Mitt Romney remained the clear frontrunner for the nomination with a 68.9 percent likelihood of winning, but Gingrich is the latest anyone-but-Romney candidate at 14 percent likelihood. The former speaker of the house benefited as Herman Cain's sexual harassment problems grew worse and Rick Perry had a memory failure at Wednesday night's Michigan debate.

    We derive these numbers from prediction markets, such as Betfair and Intrade, which allow users to trade contracts on the outcome of future events.

    The ultimate impact of the sexual harassment allegations on Cain's candidacy remains to be seen, but they have had an immediate negative effect. In the week following the surfacing of allegations, Cain chalked up record fundraising and steady poll numbers. Yet, his fourth accuser's press conference at the beginning of last week was followed by three national polls showing him no longer in

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  • Predictions: From stocks to politics to Twilight

    Market forecasting is a very useful tool in sizing up likely campaign and election outcomes--but it is by no means confined to the political world. As we at The Signal continue to cover the many shifts in perception and momentum over the 2012 election cycle, we'll also remind you of the other events and movements that the global predictions markets handicap--everything from sporting events to movie debuts to financial bailouts.

    In professional football, for instance, the Green Bay Packers are undefeated half way through the 2011 season--and forecasters in the prediction markets give them a 27.8 percent likelihood of winning the Super Bowl. The new Twilight movie, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1, opens next weekend--with the markets predicting a huge opening weekend box office receipt of about $152.9 million, with a running total of $318.5 million over the first four weekends the movie is out. There is about a 25-30 percent likelihood that the global energy and contracting firm 

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  • Handicapping the election-year math in Congress

    The 2012 election cycle will likely bring many changes—among them a potential shift in Washington's balance of power.

    Right now, the Republican party holds a solid majority in the House of Representatives, and party officials are optimistic that the GOP can recapture the White House. The prediction markets—where traders in data handicap likely outcomes in the political world—have assessed the race for the White House essentially as a tossup, giving Barack Obama about a 50 percent likelihood of keeping his job.

    Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate, where Democrats hold a slim majority, seems likely to tilt into GOP control. The prediction markets forecast a 25 percent likelihood that Democrats can keep their Senate majority.

    Indeed, the numbers don't seem likely to break for Senate Democrats in 2012. Of the chamber's 100 seats, 53 caucus with the Democrats—including Independent Sens. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Thirty-three Senate seats will be in play for the

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