Monday, February 27, 2012

Combining the natural political talents of Martha Coakley with the warmth of Don Rickles

Romney, in Daytona:
But the crowd initially booed Mr. Romney, who occasionally struck a discordant note, as when he approached a group of fans wearing plastic ponchos. “I like those fancy raincoats you bought,” he said. “Really sprung for the big bucks.” And when asked if he was a fan of the sport, he mentioned that “I have some great friends who are Nascar team owners.”
(h/t David Karol)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Maps in wartime

Susan Schulten has another great post up on a Civil War skirmish in northeastern Virginia in early 1862. Maps again play a key role, and those with any geographic knowledge of the area are immediately valued. Susan relays the story of an escaped slave named Harry, who quickly rises in stature due to his intimate knowledge of the region:
On Jan. 24, a slave named Harry escaped to the Union picket line. Rather than return him to his owner, as other officers might have, Captain Heine took him on as a guide and servant. He gave him a uniform, a pistol, a sabre and “a good horse.” A full year before the Emancipation Proclamation or the enlistment of black soldiers, Harry became the first black cavalryman of the war. He knew every road and path in the area, and, according to Sneden, “would fight to the death before allowing himself to be captured.”
This intelligence on the ground was augmented by aerial reconnaissance. In late January, Thaddeus Lowe used a balloon to survey the landscape, and noticed that Confederates were building earthworks to the south (marked in red on the map). Heine immediately organized a raid on Colchester with two goals in mind: to measure these earthworks that Lowe had spotted, and to capture the rebel smugglers. On the night of Jan. 29, he took 50 men from the 37th New York, with Sneden and Harry to guide them. Just five days earlier, Harry had been a slave; now he was leading an armed raid against his former owners.

Friday, February 24, 2012


You can't afford *not* to buy a Death Star!

A few years ago, someone (I can't recall who -- the link is dead) estimated it would cost $15 septillion to build a Death Star. I estimated it would cost several orders of magnitude less, considering that the original estimate was based on Earth's primitive and costly methods of transporting material into orbit. Now some students at Lehigh have estimated the cost at about $850 quadrillion. Kevin Drum points out that this is far less intimidating than it might look. If we wait about 500 years to build it (at which point our technology might have advanced to Star Wars-like levels), this figure will only be about 65 times world GDP. Spread the project out over 20 years, and that's only 3 times world GDP. Moreover, spread it out over the wealth of tens of thousands of star systems in the Galactic Empire, and suddenly this is looking quite affordable.

Drum concludes from this that building the Death Star was "totally worth it." Well, that's not obvious. One must ask, compared to what? I mean, what was the point of the Death Star in the first place? To intimidate planets that might have considered undermining the Empire. It couldn't be everywhere at once, but the example of destroying Alderaan had to have served as a deterrent for other planets. Notably, the Rebellion had few options for bases after that. They stayed on an ice planet briefly, and after that had to wander space in a few random ships. But, of course, the deterrent value was limited, since the Death Star had been destroyed. Everyone knew the Empire could build another one, but until they did, the threat was going to wane. So they threw together another one, which again got destroyed.

Now, just as building a Death Star sent an important message to non-compliant planets, destroying a Death Star sent a powerful signal, as well. It was a huge public relations coup for the Rebellion. So the Death Star, while a devastating weapon, was also a tempting target. There were some basic conceptual design flaws (both versions were destroyed by a small smuggling ship and a handful of single-person fighters), but really, even if it had survived Yavin, it was doomed to spend much of its operational time fighting off attackers, simply by virtue of being such a big fat target.

Had the Empire instead used that money to build thousands of additional star destroyers, that likely would have been a much wiser investment. Then they really could be everywhere at once. Hell, park one in orbit around every system in the Empire. Then when Leia says, "They're on Dantooine," Tarkin can just call up the ship hovering over Dantooine and say, "Are there rebels there?", and the captain can say, "Uh, no. She's lying." Saves a lot of time. Plus, even if the rebels could down one or two star destroyers, that doesn't provide them with anywhere near the public relations value of taking down a Death Star.

So, on balance, I'd say it was a bad investment, even if an affordable one.

One other point: It was really stupid to put both the Emperor and his chief enforcer on an uncompleted Death Star right before an attack they knew was coming. Had Vader and Palpatine been back on Coruscant when that went down, the Rebels would have won an impressive victory, but the Empire wouldn't have fallen. It would have been like Al Qaeda sinking the USS Nimitz -- serious, to be sure, but hardly death to America.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Spending on presidential elections

On Monday, Dave Gilson produced this wonderful graph of spending by presidential candidates since 1860, in constant 2011 dollars. It suggested that we really have seen a departure in the last two cycles, with 2004 being the most expensive race up until that point, and 2008 burying 2004. Jonathan Bernstein points out that inflation-adjusted dollars really don't tell the whole story, since the country has been growing. So I've divided Gilson's cost figures by the number of votes cast* in each election (as recorded by David Leip), producing the graph below:
What surprised me is the stability of the figures over time; in 12 of the 18 elections, the campaigns spent between $2 and $5 per vote cast, in 2011 dollars. That includes most of the elections before the early-70s reforms, suggesting that, contra Jon's point, the reforms did not force campaign spending to artificially low levels. 2004 did see an unusually high level of spending, but not quite as much as was spent in 1968. And 2008 really did see a lot of spending, although 1896 still holds the record.

Like Jon, I don't see any particular problem with increased levels of campaign spending. Most of that spending consists of voluntary donations by wealthy Americans financing ads that inform middle-class Americans about presidential candidates. I fail to see the harm to the Republic.

*Jon suggests that it might be better to measure money spent per eligible voter, rather than per vote cast, since it is the eligible voters that the campaigns are trying to reach. I agree, but figuring out the eligible electorate in many of these years is a tad tricky. Millions of Americans were legally eligible to vote from the 1870s to the 1960s but nonetheless faced taunts, beatings, or death for trying to do so.

Update: See here to see campaign spending as a function of real GDP.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Updated forecast

Nate Silver has updated his election forecast models based on current assessments of the Republican candidates' ideological positions and the status of the economy. The numbers look substantially better for Obama since the last time Silver drew up these calculations. There are still legitimate reasons to quarrel with Silver's estimates of candidate ideology (especially the conclusion that Gingrich and Santorum are equally conservative) and of the impact of ideology on an election, but he's notably being a lot more transparent about the methods this time around.

Anyway, I've updated my chart of the forecasts based on Silver's numbers, assuming Obama has a 50% approval rating:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

How do 527s fit in with parties?

If parties are networks, where exactly do 527s fit in? Are they out on the fringes, running messages inconsistent with what the party leaders and candidates want? Or are they highly central to the party networks, doing the work that the more formal branches of the parties are prohibited from doing?

Richard Skinner, David Dulio, and I investigate these questions in a new paper that just came out in American Politics Research called "527 Committees and the Political Party Network" (PDF, ungated). The way we approached this was by collecting a dataset consisting of all the employment records of the 100 most active 527s between 2004 and 2006. We then researched these employees' backgrounds to find out where else they have worked. Then we constructed a network using the employment ties between different organizations. The chart below shows all the groups that were linked to the liberal 527 America Coming Together via shared employees:
The network analysis finds that 527s are closely tied to the party networks, assisting them in coordinating messages across different groups. The study also suggests that 527s played a particularly important role for the Democratic Party during this period when Republicans held control over the Congress and the White House: they were a place of employment for key Democratic staffers until their party could return to power.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Barton Links

It's been too late for some time now

Colorado political consultant Eric Sondermann, in Sunday's Denver Post:
At the end of 2011, I said that I still thought there was one shot in three — no more than that — that the nominee would be somebody not currently in the race. Every time the Romney freight train gets slowed down or temporarily derailed, that brings up that option again of whether Romney is ultimately going to be able to close this deal. I still say that it is only one shot in three. But one shot in three is a lot higher than in any normal political year.
No, there will not be another candidate. The field is set and has been for some time now. Jonathan Bernstein and Josh Putnam dismissed the idea of a late-entering candidate three months ago, and they were repeating themselves then. There are three main reasons:
  1. Filing deadlines: It is now too late to enter roughly half the state primaries and caucuses. Yeah, that makes winning a majority of delegates kind of challenging.
  2. Romney's not that unpopular: Sure, the contest has been a bit longer and bloodier than Romney wanted, but polling consistently shows that a broad majority of party voters would be okay with him (if not unabashedly enthusiastic about him) as the nominee.
  3. The Republican Party does not have a death wish: The last time a party nominated a presidential candidate who had not participated in primaries and caucuses was 1968, and it led to a massive rift within the Democratic Party and a number of profound reforms to the nominating system. If the Republican Party is at all concerned about maintaining the loyalty of its most active voters, it is not going to diss them by nominating someone for whom nobody campaigned.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Scatterplot dump: Colorado caucus edition

Just to follow up on my previous post about Tuesday's Colorado Republican caucus, I've played with a bit more county-level data and found a few interesting correlations. None of these are perfect, and a lot of things are moving simultaneously, so to find the one thing that caused Santorum's upset is a fool's errand. Nonetheless, these are suggestive.

I also encourage you to read Sean Trende's county-level analysis of New Hampshire's and Florida's primaries (he finds some similar things to what I found about Evangelical voters) and Nate Silver's interesting essay today.

Anyway, some graphs after the jump. All bivariate relationships are statistically significant at the p ≤ .05 level.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Secret of Santorum's Success?

I've been mostly focusing on the Colorado results from last night's Santoruming, which, I'll admit, caught me by surprise. Those seeking to understand what happened here should begin with the knowledge that the Colorado GOP is far from monolithic. Yesterday, Micah Cohen at fivethirtyeight ran a nice geographical profile of the state's Republicans (featuring the occasional blatherings of Kyle Saunders and myself). Cohen notes that the business Republicans in the Denver metro area don't necessarily vote like the libertarian Republicans on the Western slope, who don't necessarily vote like the Evangelicals in Colorado Springs. And last night's map showed some geographic diversity, with Romney doing well in the Denver suburbs -- but not by enough -- and Santorum taking just about every other part of the state (with the exception of the sparsely-populated northwest).

So how did Santorum end up taking the state, when Romney dominated it four years ago and when Romney had the backing of an impressive array of Republican leaders, including the state's most recent Republican governors and U.S. senators and the current speaker of the statehouse?

I was curious about the role of Evangelical Protestants in the state. Here's a telling scatterplot, looking at the percent of religious adherents in each Colorado county who are Evangelicals and Santorum's caucus vote share:
And yes, that regression line is statistically significant at the p ≤ .05 level. I know the data are a bit noisy -- chalk that up to caucus results in small counties, where sometimes only a few dozen people actually turn out to vote.

Below is a multivariate regression equation in which I use the percentage of Evangelicals, Catholics, and Mormons to predict Santorum's county-level share of the caucus vote in Colorado. I also include a variable measuring whether there was a Tea Party organization in the county in 2010. The only predictor that is statistically significant is the Evangelical percentage:

    santorum |      Coef.   Std. Err.      t    P>|t| 
    evangper |   .2715796   .1125573     2.41   0.019
 catholicper |   .1328817   .1060132     1.25   0.215
   mormonper |  -.2968235   .1923018    -1.54   0.128
  teaparty10 |  -2.368753   3.282964    -0.72   0.473
       _cons |   32.19836   5.826821     5.53   0.000

Meanwhile, here's the same regression predicting Romney's share of the caucus vote. The Evangelical variable is just on the edge of significance, suggesting that the more Evangelicals, the lower the Romney vote. Conversely, the more Mormons, the higher the Romney vote. No, I cannot explain why the Tea Party variable is positive and significant here. This may be spurious, or it may indicate that Tea Partiers who were not Evangelicals backed Romney:

      romney |      Coef.   Std. Err.      t    P>|t|
    evangper |   -.193941   .0985893    -1.97   0.054
 catholicper |  -.0887819   .0928572    -0.96   0.343
   mormonper |   .5840437   .1684377     3.47   0.001
  teaparty10 |   5.884603   2.875557     2.05   0.045
       _cons |   32.35636   5.103729     6.34   0.000

Again, these are county-level data, which may not be the best level to examine such questions. Nonetheless, what does this mean going forward? Is this evidence that Evangelicals will not accept Romney due to his religion? Or that Romney supporters lack the enthusiasm to seal the deal? I noticed this interesting tweet from David Leonhardt this morning:
Streak continues: Romney has won every state Hillary did in '08 (NH, FL, NV) and lost all those she lost (IA, SC, MN, MO, CO).
Here's the important difference: she lost all those other states to Obama. Romney lost those other states to two different people. If there were one non-Romney sucking up all the votes and delegates, that would be a serious threat, but at least so far, that's not happening.

Romney still has what his rivals lack: the money and institutional backing to be competitive everywhere at the same time. We'll see evidence of that on Super Tuesday. Gingrich and Santorum may continue to make him bleed, but I still don't see how either of them deprives him of the nomination.

Update: More telling scatterplots here.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Christina Aguilera is the Newt Gingrich of "The Voice"

Just think about the parallels:

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The big "O" stands for "omitted variable"

Yeah, about that survey (via John Sides)...
Republican Lead the Polls—In Orgasm

Yep, you heard that right. Republicans—and conservative Republicans, for that matter—reported the highest frequency of orgasm of all of the survey respondents, despite having the least amount of sex. More than half of those who identified as conservative Republicans said they reached climax almost every time they had sex, compared with just 40 percent of liberal Democrats. Sure, these answers are self-reported, but the survey was conducted anonymously online. What reason do they have to lie?
Well, there are plenty of reasons people would lie in an anonymous survey, particularly about such a subject. But did they think to control for gender?
Ideology                        Percent male
Extremely liberal                  37.3
Extremely conservative        53.2
(Source: ANES 2008)
What a shock -- the percentages who claim to have orgasms every time they have sex are almost the exact same percentages who happen to be men.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Does primary turnout tell us anything about the general election?

Sean Trende had a nice piece a few days ago pondering the question of whether the relatively low turnout in Republican primary contests so far (compared to 2008) portends ill for the Republicans in November. Does this mean that Republicans are unenthusiastic this year and won't turn out for their nominee?

I think Trende is right that turnout in primaries is more a function of the level of competition within the party that year rather than an omen for the general election. But unfortunately, he only uses total numbers of voters in those primaries to analyze the question. I used his table and combined it with estimates of voter party affiliation and total numbers of registered voters to generate an indicator of voter turnout in out-party primaries. This allows us to address the question of whether turnout in the primaries of the party not currently in control of the White House affects the vote share in November. Here's a scatterplot (the points are labeled by the candidate of the incumbent party):
Just to be clear about what this means, in 1996, only about 26.5% of self-identified Republicans participated in the primaries, and the Democratic incumbent (Clinton) got about 55% of the two-party vote in November. Similarly, in 2008, turnout was at a record high in Democratic primaries, and the incumbent party's candidate (McCain) did poorly in November.

The results above suggest a negative correlation, implying that lower participation in out-party primaries is associated with a higher vote share for the incumbent party's candidate. For this year, that would mean that if Republican primaries are really suffering from low turnout, that would favor Obama.

Now, some important caveats:

  • The relationship shown above is not statistically significant and is further washed away when one controls for economic growth.
  • The relationship shown above is based on a small number of cases (from 1972 on).
  • The measurement of turnout in primaries is imperfect. I'm using an estimate of all those who identified with the party in my denominator, but different state party rules strongly affect who gets to turn out. (e.g.: Democratic leaners, whom I include, might have a harder time participating in a closed primary than in an open one.) I'm open to better data if anyone has any.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The McGovernites

What's it like to take over a major political party? You can get a great sense of it by watching "One Bright Shining Moment: The Forgotten Summer of George McGovern." I recently showed parts of it to students in my parties class and we all found it fascinating. In particular, the coverage of the 1972 primaries and the chaotic convention that year are great and revealing. The film also does a nice job explaining the McGovern-Fraser reforms and how they affected subsequent elections.

You get a great sense of the party establishment being set back on its heels as this anti-war insurgent candidate from the middle of nowhere seems to be taking the nomination from them with a ragtag army of freaks. There's a beautiful moment where McGovern defeats Hubert Humphrey in California, which was then under winner-take-all rules (despite the reforms of the previous year). Humphrey and his party backers then try to have California's delegates retroactively allocated proportionally, involving the McGovern campaign in a distracting five-week litigation battle. Seeing McGovern defend WTA while the insiders argue for proportionality is quite delightful.

Now, the film isn't all great. It's got a pretty heavy-handed lefty agenda, suggesting that President McGovern could have rescued us from the deceit of Watergate, Iran-Contra, Lewinsky, WMDs, etc. The interviewees are kind of an all-star Hollywood liberal elite cast -- Warren Beatty, Gloria Steinem, Gore Vidal, Dick Gregory, etc. (I suppose they deserve some credit for getting Ron Kovic instead of Tom Cruise playing Ron Kovic. Then again, Kovic was probably the easier get.) And it goes off into some paranoid areas, implying that the assassination attempt on George Wallace was tied to Watergate.

But there's some rich stuff in there that really makes it worthwhile. They don't really draw the connection, but I couldn't help comparing these events with those of the Goldwater insurgency just eight years earlier. In both cases, a group of young idealists manage to take over the party and fundamentally change how the party was perceived and what it stood for, nominating a candidate who they truly believed in, rather than one they settled for. In both cases, their summer of elation ended up with historic routs for their party. That's a pretty rough awakening for the most energetic activists in both parties.

Now McGovern vs. Goldwater? That would have been fun.

Unemployment and presidential elections, reconsidered

Nate Silver notices that the change in non-farm payrolls in an election year does a pretty good job predicting presidential elections. I've used his variable in the chart below to predict incumbent party vote shares:
This variable does almost as well as real disposable income in predicting election results. Of course, payroll growth and RDI growth are closely correlated, but this is nonetheless forces me to reevaluate my earlier claim that unemployment levels didn't really predict presidential election results. This measure also calls for some other reconsiderations if you buy the argument. For example, Gore did just about as well as could be expected, Stevenson massively underperformed in 1952 (thanks to the Korean War, five terms of Democratic control of the White House, and his relative lack of Ike-ness), and Nixon actually had a pretty solid economy in 1972. Oh, and McCain slightly over-performed in 2008, so cut him and Palin some slack. Or call the electorate racist. Whatever.

Silver also comes up with a magic number for Obama: he needs 166,000 new jobs per month (a figure that was well exceeded in December and January).

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The tyranny of small majorities

One must pity Colorado House Speaker Frank McNulty, who runs the chamber with a one-seat majority. It takes so little to threaten majority control. Readers may remember last year when eye surgery kept a Republican member trapped in Colorado Springs during the session (his doctors forbade him to go over 7,000 feet above sea level, and it's hard to get from the Springs to Denver without doing that), almost costing Republicans the chamber.

Well, today we've got a new one. State Rep. Laura Bradford, a moderate Republican from the Western Slope, got pulled over on suspicion of a DUI recently. There was a dispute over whether she sought legislative immunity at the time or whether she asked the officer to treat her like any other citizen, and the police have been weirdly contradictory about this. Whatever happened, the Speaker initiated a House investigation of the case and stripped her of a committee chairmanship. Due to the lack of support from her party, Bradford is now considering bolting, leaving the chamber deadlocked at 32-32-1. A new Speaker vote would determine which party runs the chamber.

Now, of course, if Bradford ends up bolting, it won't be solely because of the traffic stop. She's butted heads with her party leaders on numerous occasions. But it's a good example of just how difficult it is to manage a small majority.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Redistricting: It just doesn't matter

Jerry Wright, Jon Winburn, and I have a new piece in PS looking at the impact of redistricting on electoral competition and partisan polarization in state legislatures. Our main finding? Not much of an effect. As we argue,
The effects of partisan redistricting on competition and polarization are small, considerably more nuanced than reformers would suggest, and overwhelmed by other aspects of the political environment.
We also find that, to the extent that redistricting does affect electoral competition, it seems to have a similar effect no matter who does it, whether it's a partisan legislature or a nonpartisan panel of citizens or judges.

Ophthalmology 100 years ago

I was interested to follow the story of Mrs. Patmore, the house chef in "Downton Abbey," (which, if you're not watching, you really should be). Toward the end of season 1, Mrs. Patmore was losing her vision to cataracts, to the point where she was making dangerous mistakes in the kitchen. Rather than fire her, her employer sent her to London for surgery, and she eventually returned able to see. What exactly was the procedure for dealing with cataracts in 1914?

I checked in with the closest available source: my father, an ophthalmologist. He informs me that cataract surgery was regularly done back then, but it was a pretty barbaric procedure compared to how it's handled today. There were no implants to replace the lenses, so doctors simply removed the clouded lenses and fitted the patient with thick glasses. Even this was usually an improvement over advanced cataracts, which blocked out most light. But the procedure of removing a lens from an eye was very dangerous: there were no sutures available for stitching up the eye post-operatively, patients had to remain perfectly still for weeks afterwards to allow the eye to heal (held in place by sandbags), and the chances of infections and other complications were very high. Nonetheless, Mrs. Patmore's prognosis was certainly possible, although if she's walking around without glasses in season 2, that will be a bit surprising.

Meanwhile, as a followup, where did lens implants come from? According to my father, it had to do with World War II ball turret gunners on bomber aircraft. It was common for the gunners to be hit by shards of the plastic from which the ball turrets were made, and occasionally these shards would wind up in the eyes of the gunners. Doctors at the time found that the eye was remarkably tolerant of the plastic shards and few infections developed. It was later theorized that such plastic could be molded into a replacement lens for cataract patients.

A pair of pliers and a blow torch

Last week, after Gingrich's upset victory in South Carolina, I wrote the following:
My assumption is that the system has not changed significantly, and that party insiders will rise up again to crush Gingrich as they did back in December. And Lord knows they have the material to do it.
Did they ever. It was ugly. It seemed like every Republican member of Congress who served with Gingrich took to the airwaves or the op/ed pages to pillory him. They even dug up Bob Dole to slap Newt around a bit. And it seems to have worked quite effectively.

Now, what do I mean by "they"? I'm speaking of the party insiders, what some might call the "establishment." To understand this, it's important to read Jonathan Bernstein's post on the subject. As he notes, the concept of the party "establishment" is not terribly useful, and it can be very difficult to distinguish between party "insiders" and "outsiders." I stick with the idea that the bulk of "insiders" (officeholders, major donors, activists, media figures, and others) are backing Romney and set out to crush Gingrich over the past week. But, of course, Gingrich did get the recent backing of Herman Cain, Rick Perry, and Sarah Palin, and I hesitate to call them (well, at least the latter two of them) "outsiders." Perry, despite being a rather pathetic campaigner on the national stage, is still the Republican governor of Texas, and Palin is, of course, the party's most recent vice presidential nominee.

Similarly, how do we classify Gingrich? Sure, he's running as an "outsider," but as Ezra Klein notes, Gingrich is a rather odd person to claim outsider status, given his two decades in Congress, his four years as Speaker, his doctoral degree, his penchant for using Isaac Asimov books to generate policy ideas, and more than a decade of work as a DC consultant, party elder, and Sunday morning talk show mainstay. This is hardly the stuff of raw populism. But being an insider or an outsider isn't simply a function of one's résumé. He's running this way precisely because the bulk of insiders are already in Romney's camp. He has no choice.

In The Party Decides, Cohen et al. talk about the importance of endorsements by out-of-group elites. The example they use is a vegetarian recommending a fish restaurant; if the vegetarian likes it, that sends a signal to people with lots of other preferences that the restaurant probably has a lot of good selections, even if their speciality is fish, and a whole group of people with diverse preferences may end up converging on that restaurant. Similarly, if, say, a prominent evangelical Christian backed Romney, that would be an important signal to other prominent party activists, and would probably be more impressive than if he got endorsements from other northeastern Mormon businessmen.

The example we have today is that the bulk of Republican members of Congress who served with Gingrich are now backing Romney. It wouldn't be terribly impressive if they had backed Gingrich -- we'd have expected that kind of loyalty to the former Speaker. But the fact that they know him well and are refusing to back him is very meaningful. David Frum had one of my favorite quotes on the subject: "Suppose it were Gingrich v. Obama. And suppose we restricted franchise to Republicans who served in Congress 1978-1998. It'd be a close vote."

Now, when party elites have converged on a candidate (as they have largely done in this case), it tends to be easy for the media to portray other rival candidates as flaky or eccentric, and the insider-backed candidate can exploit that. (Think Gary Hart '88, Howard Dean '04, Ron Paul in several cycles.) But with Gingrich, that's like shooting fish in a barrel.

I had suggested a while back that this election was turning into a great test of The Party Decides, and so far it's looking like a resounding win for the theory. But Gingrich may have made it a bit easy for them.