Last night, Ron Paul increased his percentage of the Iowa caucus vote from 10.0% in 2008 to 21.4%. If we can expect this same kind of increase from Paul in the remaining states, what would we expect his performance to be? I have found that Ron Paul’s primary vote shares are best modeled logarithmically, due to overdispersion in the data. Put another way, Paul increased his vote share from 2.3 log points to 3.1 log points last night, an increase of 0.765 log points. What if Paul experienced that same gain in the remaining states in the primary calendar?
I’m going to do something pretty simple here. I’m going to add that figure to Paul’s 2008 performances for each state and then convert back into percentages. However, Montana has switched from a caucus to a primary, which should hurt Paul, so for Montana I’ve subtracted from Paul’s score the estimated benefit he received from caucus states in 2008. I’ve arranged the list according to each state’s place in this year’s calendar.
|District of Columbia||3-Apr||17.5%|
I think that this forecast underestimates Paul’s support in next week’s New Hampshire primary, because it does not take into account the increase in Free State Project activists in that state. Nevertheless, it should be clear what a daunting task Paul faces. Even if he hits 20-22% in New Hampshire, he is not likely to be competitive in South Carolina and Florida, both of which are dominated by socially conservative defense hawks in the former case and older voters in the latter, and both of which are primaries, where Paul has usually done far less well.
However, if Paul can manage to beat expectations there, he stands a decent chance of winning the Nevada, Minnesota, and Maine caucuses and placing second in Colorado. A string of strong performances just might set him up to beat these forecasts in the next few states, especially if he becomes the anti-Romney anti-Santorum by default. After Super Tuesday, Paul faces a potential long dry spell of primary states in which he does not do particularly well. It’s hard to see how he does not get eliminated from contention for the nomination during this period, unless he really manages to build momentum out of New Hampshire and the early February contests.