Romney could be trouble for Obama

Last modified: 11/4/2011 12:00:00 AM
If the economy doesn't improve and Mitt Romney is the Republican candidate for president, President Obama has just a 17 percent chance of winning the general election, according to an analysis that will be published in Sunday's New York Times Magazine.

The article, which went online yesterday, calculates the president's shot at re-election with a model that considers Obama's approval rating, the G.D.P. and the ideology of his potential Republican opponent. The author, Nate Silver, quantifies that last factor by assigning the Republican candidates an 'extremism score' based on congressional voting, fundraising contributions and voters' assessments taken during polls.

Using those factors, if the G.D.P. doesn't improve and Romney emerges as the Republican contender, Obama would have a 17 percent chance at winning the popular vote, according to Silver's analysis. But if the G.D.P. grows by 4 percent, his model gives Obama a 60-40 edge over the former Massachusetts governor.

Under Silver's model, the picture improves significantly for Obama if Rick Perry is the Republican candidate for president. If the G.D.P. doesn't improve, Perry gets 59 percent of the vote. But if it grows by 4 percent, Obama wins by a landslide - 83 percent, reversing the first scenario with Romney.

Even if the economy makes gains, however, Obama could err by appearing out of touch, Silver says: If he's too quick to declare an end to the country's economic woes, he risks losing the election.


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