Friday, May 13, 2016

Luck + Skill

In the 2012 Republican Presidential Primary polls, between Aug. 25, 2011 and Feb. 8, 2012,
Romney was only in the lead for short stints as Perry, Cain, Gingrich, and Santorum each led, sometimes by large margins. Romney led continually before and after those dates, so leads by the other candidates were just a flirtation, not a yearning.  Using this as a partially defined model, the predictions for 2016 generally assumed that Trump support would fall as he "misspoke" or voters got to know him better just as these other candidates had fallen in 2012. An alternative (better) interpretation of 2012 would be that in 2016 a combination of (1) a candidate with just the right kind of outsider appeal and persuasive skills to win Republican primaries,  (2) a weak enough establishment candidate (Mr. Low-Tea) and (3) an otherwise weak field, could result in the major upset that has occurred in Trump. Is that really a long shot or a failure of interpretation of how the system of Republican primaries has evolved in recent cycles? The fact that the "reasonable" candidates, i.e. the favorites of Democrats, like Huntsman and Kasich never get off the ground should tell us something. The better sports analogies might be the Golden State Warriors with Stephen Curry and the 3-point shot or the New England Patriots unorthodox team building strategies. That is, we need to understand what is happening to the model. Are there any random variables that matter much here or did Trump just go out and execute on a winning strategy that no one could quite see beforehand?

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