America runs on statistics. It could even be said that Americans can’t
function without them.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney presses the flesh during a campaign stop in Alabama. (AP)
This is most evident in media accounts of sporting contests – baseball and American football especially – where it’s possible to read an entire report and still have no idea what actually occurred.
There is no narrative, just impenetrable numbers.
But this is not always a bad thing. Statistics can often carve open an understanding of something where words just cloud an issue. Like, just who is voting for Presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Funny you should ask…
From last week’s Super Tuesday results the “We Don’t Want Mitt Romney As Our Candidate” vote (that is the Santorum, Gingrich, and Paul chunk of votes) easily beats Romney.
This is significant as it could be convincingly argued that if Gingrich dropped out, Rick Santorum could beat Romney in a two-candidate preferred race to take on President Obama.
MSNBC talk show host Rachael Maddow has pointed to intriguing figures from Romney’s close Ohio victory last week. Republicans earning under $30,000 (yes, there are some) were split on their preference between Romney and Santorum. With voters earning under $100,000 per year, up to 11 per cent more favoured Santorum over Romney.
Where does Romney nudge over the line? The powerful 10 per cent of voters earning over $100,000 per year. The figures are mirrored in Michigan. Romney’s core votes come from the richest voters and his only winning group of votes compared to his rivals come from the richest voters.
You can watch Maddow’s analysis here.
A key to this puzzle is, in certain states, the number of higher-income Republican voters has grown significantly. Romney – and this should be no surprise – is inspiring rich people to get out and vote for him. With his Wall Street connections, history with Bain Capital, and a wife he boasts has two Cadillacs, Romney is the rich guy’s guy. He has been accused of being out of touch with the electorate but the truth is that he is very much in touch with his supporters. Those supporters that are very well off.
Here’s Romney’s problem: He is considered the “most electable” Republican candidate by many pundits but the unraveling truth is that he may face President Obama having not convinced a majority of his own party that he is the best man for the job. Rival Rick Santorum just won’t go away and will not go away.
“You have Governor Romney now saying, ‘Oh, this race is over, that mathematically it can't work'," Santorum said recently. “When we have our nominee going out there and trying to sell the American public to vote for him because of mathematics, we are in very, very, tough shape. This isn’t about math. This is about vision, it's about leadership.”
Which is one version of what these vote are about but to Santorum’s benefit, it’s also about statistics. To his detriment, and maybe Romney’s benefit, it’s also about rich people. In November, the question may be how many rich people are out there.