Tim Stanley: Nate Silver was Right About 2012

Roundup: Historians' Take

Dr. Tim Stanley is a historian of the United States. His biography of Pat Buchanan is out now. His personal website is www.timothystanley.co.uk and you can follow him on Twitter @timothy_stanley.

The two worst sins in the Christian canon are pride and despair. Let me shoot down pride, first.

I'm getting a lot of (quite rude) emails and texts saying that I called the 2012 election wrong. Actually, I was never Mitt Romney's biggest fan. Before the debates, I was very critical of his candidacy and his chances of winning (and, for my efforts, got a series of deranged emails accusing me of having a man crush on the President). I did predict that Romney would walk the first debate – based on his performances in the primaries – and when the polls suddenly narrowed for him I came on a lot more strongly in his favour. In the last few weeks I never said that Mitt Romney absolutely definitely would win and I never offered a projected result. But I thought the race was "back on" thanks to the debates.

I was convinced that Romney could win because the Republican Party had a hidden advantage. That advantage was an unemployment rate of 7.9 per cent – a figure that no president has been re-elected with since 1936. Like many conservative-minded commentators, I projected the circumstances of this election back into the past and concluded that Obama faced an uphill struggle. So when things got closer after the debates (and, hey, Rasmussen and Gallup were close), I thought that historical logic was finally kicking in. I had the audacity to hope....

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