2012 Election Watch: running mates and the polls

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s announcement on August 11 of Paul Ryan as his running mate drew a variety of responses, including cheers, jeers and even some comparisons to John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin in 2008.

But for all the media fervor over Ryan and his controversial budget plan, the polling response has been muted compared to 2008. The Real Clear Politics poll shows  Romney narrowing the gap from 4.6 points to 2.8 since the August 11 announcement.

But compared to 2008, the bump from Ryan looks inconsequential. Nine days after  McCain announced Palin as his running mate, the GOP hopeful had not only erased a 3.9 point deficit, he had taken a narrow 1 point lead.

Meanwhile, the IEM betting market (a futures market in which people can take positions based on certain outcomes) saw it’s own bump, in this case for Obama. The Democratic nominee contract rose from .58 to .63, the most expensive contract since Romney became the presumptive nominee in early May.

And the 2008 IEM market for comparison.

The 2008 market didn’t seem to react to Palin’s nomination immediately. Obama even receives a noticeable increase to 0.65 before narrowing sharply. It then makes one of its starkest two-day moves of the election toward McCain – the same day that the RCP poll first had McCain ahead of Obama. Five days later the IEM would produce the election’s narrowest spread between the contracts – 0.53 for the Democratic nominee versus 0.47 for the Republican nominee.

Can 2008 tell us anything about this year’s election? It’s a bit of an apples to oranges comparison, but McCain never polled better or had a tighter market spread than he did in the two weeks after announcing Palin. Romney is polling slightly better than he was in the days before naming Ryan, but worse than he was in mid-t0-late July.

The markets, meanwhile, tell a similar story. In 2008, the IEM briefly adjusted for the consideration that maybe Palin was the “game changer” that she was meant to be, and was backed up by the polls. In 2012, Ryan isn’t moving the needle much.

Related reading:

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