After becoming the first Republican to notch back-to-back wins in Iowa and New Hampshire since Gerald Ford in 1976, Mitt Romney appears to have a lock on the Republican nomination, according to the latest data from The Daily Beast's Election Oracle.
The Oracle shows Romney with a 58 percent chance of taking the prize. None of his rivals in the crowded field have more than a one-in-ten chance of overtaking him.
The Oracle's predictions are based on a formula that includes data from the InTrade prediction market, polling averages, and daily "favorability ratings" generated by the Oracle. To determine favorability ratings, the Oracle tracks 40,000 news sites, blogs, message boards, Twitter feeds, and other social-media sources to analyze what millions of people are saying about the candidates—and determines whether the Web buzz is positive or negative. The Oracle's predictions are expressed as a chance of winning (i.e. 60 percent means three-in-five chance of winning the election, not 60 percent of the vote).
The volume of chatter about Romney is also soaring, according to The Oracle. Romney was mentioned as often on the Web Tuesday as the rest of the Republican field combined. The 129,217 mentions of Romney more than tripled the 37,791 mentions of Ron Paul, who finished a distant second in both New Hampshire and in online mentions.
But Romney's increasingly "desperate rivals" are lining up for what may be last stands for many of them in South Carolina's primary next Tuesday—with the now well-funded super-PAC backing Newt Gingrich leading the assault—and their latest attempts to bring the leader back to the pack seem to be taking a toll. Despite dominating conversation, Romney's favorability rating was sub-zero for the second straight day, meaning mentions of him on the Web were more likely to be negative than positive.