FiveThirtyEight: Gingrich still leads “wide open” race for Iowa

Georgia’s Newt Gingrich picked up dozens of prominent new supporters in the state yesterday, but Georgia hardly matters at this point. (Really, with Governor Deal leading the Gingrich effort in the state, what prominent Republicans are going to say no?)

After surging to the top of the Republican primary polls nationally and the caucus polls in Iowa, Gingrich couldn’t be in a better spot, but he could be in trouble — serious trouble — if he’s not right at the top in Iowa in a few weeks.

I’m a numbers guy (at least part of me is), and I’ll be spending a lot of time over the next year looking at Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog at the New York Times. Silver and his team examine hard data from polls and consider all sorts of other factors — polling history, broader demographic trends, the performance of individual polling companies, and on and on — to make projections that are generally very, very accurate. Btw, FiveThirtyEight started on its own website before moving over to the NYT. Silver is politically liberal, which might be clear in some of his commentary, but his analysis of numbers is about as objective as it can be, I think.

In a post today, Silver declares the Iowa caucuses still “wide open”, with Gingrich ahead. But take a look at the level of uncertainty.

Again, this is not a poll, but a statistical analysis of various polls, with most weight given to the most recent ones, adjusted for polling company’s track records. Gingrich has nearly a 50% chance of winning, but the range of 90% certainty is more than 30 points. Ron Paul has a 28% chance of winning.

If you’re into numbers and politics and aren’t looking at FiveThirtyEight regularly, check it out.