Conventional wisdom has crowned Mitt Romney the inevitable Republican nominee. His stock on Intrade shot up to 72% last night, and one of his strategists recently boasted that he couldn’t “see any scenario where we’re not the nominee." But calm down guys, writes Nate Silver in the New York Times, because “the scenario is pretty easy to articulate.” Early primaries are all about expectations, so a disappointing finish in Iowa or New Hampshire could crush Romney.
“The probability of these scenarios is higher than is generally acknowledged,” he argues. The media is always shocked when early primary results defy polling, but “a quick glance at the historical ledger would remind them that this sort of thing happens all the time.” Silver is still bullish on Romney, because his foes are so weak. But if expectations get out of hand, “Mr. Romney might only be one Howard Dean scream or Ed Muskie teardrop from becoming genuinely vulnerable.”