By James D. DeCocq
Straw polls only mean something to the candidate who wins…and, sometimes, to those who didn’t lose too badly. To be fair, polls can also generate great enthusiasm for candidate supporters, even though, in reality, polls don’t really mean anything.
Case in point, last year, I decisively won a Facebook Poll on who should be central Florida’s next U.S. Congressman, beating several popular former candidates three to one. Heck, Jesus Christ, who somehow made his way onto the poll, only garnered 3 votes against me; but what did it mean? In reality, absolutely nothing.
According to wikipedia.org:
A straw poll is a vote with nonbinding results. Straw polls provide dialogue among movements within large groups. Among political bodies, straw polls often are scheduled for events at which many people interested in the polling question can be expected to vote.
A formal straw poll is common in American political caucuses. Such straw polls can be taken before selecting delegates. The results of straw polls are taken by the media to influence delegates in caucus later (as well as delegates to political conventions), and thus serve as important precursors.
A few interesting observations regarding the CPAC 2016 Presidential Straw Poll: First and foremost, it’s only March 2013. Second, even though Rand Paul, coming off of his filibuster high, won with 25% of the vote, Florida Senator Marco Rubio was just a few points behind, with both beating everyone else by nearly three-fold. Also, there were nearly 30 names on the poll, splitting votes among an unrealistic number of potential Presidential candidates, thus watering down results. Moreover, not every person on the ballot was allowed to address CPAC, potentially giving those present an unfair advantage. And, over 50 percent of those participating in the CPAC Poll were in the “Rand sweet spot” of 18-25 years old. Finally, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush allegedly requested to be left off of the poll; maybe to not further split the vote, maybe to not lose to Rand Paul’s momentum, or maybe simply because he doesn’t want to be considered as a contender for 2016.
So, with all this being said, what does this poll tell us? Ignoring biases, we’ve learned only that Senators Paul and Rubio were clearly the most popular at this gathering, and, until late August 2016…not much more than that.
PEOPLE IN THE KNOW SAID:
Lee Stranahan – Columnist, Breitbart.com – “The CPAC Straw Poll is not a scientific poll because it is heavily influenced by response bias-the decision of attendees to participate.” http://www.breitbart.com
Scott Olver – Assistant State Coordinator, Florida Campaign for Liberty – “Rand won, freedom won, we all won. The tide is finally turning. Granted straw polls are more a measure of enthusiasm – likely grassroots or volunteer support and donations – but my understanding is that’s the point, to find a candidate with those to win.” (Scott Olver is a Precinct Committeeman, and past District Chair, with Orange County Republican Executive Committee (OCREC), whose main volunteer efforts concentrate on Campaign for Liberty, which does not endorse any particular candidates.)
Ed Dean – Statewide Radio Talk Show Host – “Rand Paul is the ‘Flavor of the Month’; he only beat [Marco] Rubio by 2%. CPAC completely snubbed Governor Chris Christie who still came in fourth. 2016 is a long way away.” http://www.eddeanradio.com
Mayra Etayo – Host, METV The Channel – “From a marketing point of view, the winning of a straw poll makes for a great press release. Unfortunately, it does not give you a preview into what the actual results will be when a larger sector of generalized voters cast their ballot. Straw polls are not scientific. These types of events, and even the geographic region, often attract only a small, usually like-minded, fragment of the community. This straw poll is a perfect case study to show that many times the winner is the last person to have received the most positive press. Regardless, whoever wins the 2016 nomination may well be the candidate who can afford the most commercials.” http://www.metvthechannel.com
James DeCocq owns and operates NJC Corporate Enterprises, a government efficiency firm that can works HOA’s, CDD’s, municipalities and counties and offers administrative services, staffing, financial efficiency analysis, operations & management. Together with his degree in Marine Biology & Affairs, James offers a unique edge to the vitalization of communities.