Since Silver was the only one who was right about anything last November, it might be worth paying attention to him now.
If Mr. Christie wants to maximize the G.O.P.’s chances of holding on to the seat, the path is fairly straightforward. He would want to appoint a moderate Republican who had held a prominent elected office before, who could raise money quickly and who could scale up to the effort that a statewide campaign would require. My 2008 study found that well-qualified appointees performed much better than the others:
By contrast, appointees who had significant recent experience as legislators performed fairly well. In seven of the 49 cases, the appointee was a sitting member of the House of Representatives; six of the seven won re-election. Seven others were sitting members of their state legislatures at the time of their appointment; five of those seven won re-election.
Mr. Christie might have decent choices from New Jersey’s list of current United States representatives. Six of the state’s 12 representatives are Republicans, and most of those Republicans are quite moderate.
In particular, Mr. Christie could appoint one of the two Republican representatives — Frank LoBiondo of the Second Congressional District and Jon Runyan of the Third — who won re-election last year in districts carried by President Obama. Mr. Runyan had the better fund-raising performance last year, bringing in $2.1 million for his campaign, compared with $1.6 million for Mr. LoBiondo.
This isn’t some of Silver’s most insightful stuff-we all know that someone with better recent qualifications stands a better chance-but this isn’t a very complex situation. It’s a northeastern state and the only Republicans who have success up in that neck of the woods are the moderates, as much as it pains me to say that.