Skip to main content
ABC News
Reads & Reactions

It’s another disagree-with-Nate edition, including several helpings of 2012 election politics and a dash of baseball.


After FiveThirtyEight paged Gov. Rick Perry of Texas and laid out a Southerner’s advantage in trying to win the Republican nomination, Paul Waldman asked : “When has this ever happened? By ‘this,’ I mean the white knight candidate riding in after the race has started to save his party from a bunch of unpalatable choices.” And Mr. Waldman has the answer: Since 1972, “in every single election, the nominees are people who knew they were running and began preparing long before the race began. ”

But Salon’s Steve Kornacki argues that Mr. Waldman’s case is based on scant evidence. “It’s true that there are two recent high-profile examples of supposed white knights whose candidacies fell flat — Fred Thompson in 2008 and Wesley Clark in 2004. But there really aren’t any other examples of genuine white knight candidacies in the modern era,” Mr. Kornacki wrote.

At A Plain Blog About Politics, Jonathan Bernstein disagreed with some of the conclusions in FiveThirtyEight’s third article on early polling in presidential primaries, where Nate wrote, “It’s simply quite wrong to suggest … that early primary polls are meaningless. Instead, they have a reasonable amount of predictive power.”

Brendan Nyhan, at his eponymous blog, came down on Mr. Bernstein’s side.

Mr. Bernstein also used FiveThirtyEight’s data in an interesting article on Tim Pawlenty’s inability to climb out of the polling basement.

Eric at Politically Iconoclastic doesn’t think the contest for the 2012 Republican nomination is as wide-open as Nate does. “Far from wide-open, the 2012 Republican presidential contest has a clear favorite in Mr. Romney, who, in my view, has a better than 50% chance of winning the nomination,” Eric wrote, before making an interesting argument for that number.

Commentary’s Jonathan S. Tobin wrote an article, “The Perils of Punditry: That’s Why They Play the Games,” pointing out that the Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter went 4 for 6 and hit two home runs on the same day Nate predicted that age had finally caught up with Jeter, and that his subpar batting was unlikely to improve much. Mr. Tobin wrote: “But, like political predictions, even analysis as firmly grounded in history and irrefutable numbers as Silver’s can still be proven dead wrong.” “Dead wrong” seems a bit of an overstatement based on one game. Jeter’s numbers for the year so far: .259 batting average, .313 on-base percentage and a .328 slugging percentage. The jury still seems to be deliberating.

And finally our comment of the half-month goes to … Ken Roberts in Houston. Nate argued that if Jon M. Huntsman Jr. were to run for the G.O.P. nomination, his positions on gay rights — pro civil unions — “are likely to be among the least of his concerns” and, in fact, “are very close to those of the typical Republican voter.” But, Mr. Roberts wrote, “Of course, what would be more relevant is the position of Republican Primary voters on gay marriage. Better yet, would be polls that measure Republican Primary voters position on gay marriage and the extent to which it would affect how they voted in the Primary.” Mr. Roberts concluded, “Mr. Huntsman’s stance here could hurt him, especially as the field narrows down to a few viable candidates.” (The full comment is here.)


The Telegraph connects the Fed’s second phase of quantitative easing and the revolutions in the Middle East

Mark J. Nelson figured out the most densely Wikipedia-article-populated parts of the world.

And — courtesy of Alex Tabarrok at The Marginal Revolution — Ali S. Khan at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains how to prepare for a “zombie apocalypse.” (For those who are counting, this is the second Reads link about zombies; here is the first).

Micah Cohen is FiveThirtyEight’s former managing editor.