Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Romney Boosted By Ads, Not Debate

Via BMG, I see that local pundit Jon Keller has attributed Mitt Romney's jump in the New Hampshire polls to his performance in the GOP debate last week, and more specifically to the former governor's response to a question about embryonic stem cells. Keller, I think, has fallen victim to the fallacy common to those of us who follow politics closely -- namely that any one else is paying a lick of attention. That Republican debate was watched by about 1.7 million viewers. If we assume a proportional number of those were from New Hampshire (spare me the pabulum about NH voters taking their responsibility so seriously that they'll be disproportionately paying attention at this stage in the GOP primary) then we can estimate, based on Census data that about 7500, or the about population of the NH town of Pembroke (or West Boylston, MA) of those viewers watched from the Granite State. Sure, that's a good chunk of people, but not so much that would cause Romney's poll numbers to jump dramatically.

I think what's really happening here is that Romney is getting the benefit of being on television since February. The last poll from SurveyUSA/WBZ was taken in January, before Romney's big ad buy in the early primary states. Unless I'm mistaken, Romney is the only Republican candidate running spots in New Hampshire this early, and as such you'd expect to see his numbers go up since he's not yet being challenged by anyone. Couple that with the fact that he was the governor of the state next door and owns property on Lake Winnipesaukee, and any result other than a Romney lead would be extremely surprising and potentially devastating to his 2008 hopes.