The "Texas Miracle": Nate Silver and Matthias Shapiro Go Behind the Numbers

With Rick Perry’s entrance into the Presidential race, a great debate has sprung up about Texas and the economy . While the rest of the U.S. has flagged, Texas has been on a job creation tear.

We went behind the numbers today on ABC News’ Top Line political program with Nate Silver, a statistics blogger for the New York Times , and Matthias Shapiro, of politicalmathblog . While some on the left have dismissed Texas’ job growth in recent years, pointing to the lower-than-average number of hourly workers there and higher-than-average number of people without health insurance, Shapiro defends them.

”For the most part, you see unemployment tends to peak at about 2007, 2008 and then drops off and then either stays flat or it climbs just a little bit but Texas had a much smaller drop off and it looks like it's fully recovered from the recession. That's kind of unique in the world of employment numbers. So that, in addition to that, there were just a couple of other things. People are flocking to Texas, which is part of the reason that the unemployment rate hasn’t gone down. It looks like they're just a giant magnet for people to come to look for jobs,” said Shapiro.

And they’re not all government jobs, although Texas has created government jobs at a higher rate than the rest of the country.

“Most of the jobs that I was kind of looking at were you know kind of post-recession jobs, how have we done since the beginning of the recession, and the rate of growth of the government has been a little bit faster, but not drastically faster than the rate of growth otherwise. And for the most part you're looking at kind of a lot more, a lot more local government jobs,” he said. “Now the state hasn't grown nearly as fast, so it's been, it's been very kind of very localized smaller communities where you see jobs from the government side of things, but that's that only accounts for maybe a quarter to a third of the job growth. “

Read Shapiro's full examination of the Texas jobs story.

Silver dismissed the notion that Perry will be too conservative for the national electorate, but he might not fare as well as Mitt Romney, who was governor of more liberal Massachusetts.

“I think if you've been elected governor of the nation's second-largest state three times you're not in the unelectable kind of Christine O'Donnell category, but I think he might be problematic as a general election nominee and might lose a couple percentage points worth of voters that a Romney might win, which in a close election makes a lot of difference,” said Silver.

“He certainly has this jobs record. He has executive experience. He's pretty good on the stump. He likes pressing flash and kissing babies and that stuff. But he's more conservative than the party - than a candidate a party would normally nominate when it has such a good chance to win an election, if they kind of nominate a Mitt Romney or someone who can just speak to the middle, and have Obama have to defend his economic record, which is, which is looking not very good,” said Silver.

Silver also discussed his in-depth analysis on the importance of Iowa to the nominating process. He said a win in Iowa early next year says more about a candidates’ conservative credentials than does a win in New Hampshire, where voters are more interested in the economy.

“88 percent of people in the Iowa caucus identify themselves as, as conservative or very conservative,” said Silver. “In New Hampshire, that number is more like 60-40 or even 50-50 in some years… So winning in Iowa means that you've locked up the conservative half of the GOP electorate, but believe it or not, there are moderates in the GOP plenty of them and there also Independents who vote in many of these states, so it's not always the most telling indicator of future success.”

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