Thursday, October 12, 2006



Longtime readers to this blog, and I know that there are a couple of you, know that I'm a big fan of presidential straw polls, especially the GOP variety. As I've stated in previous posts, conventional wisdom holds that Arizona Senator John McCain is the prohibitive favorite to win his party's nomination in 2008. Apparently, conventional wisdom could stand to look at a the same straw polls that I'm looking at. To be blunt, McCain is not loved by the hardcore elements of his party, at least the ones who take the time to vote in these straw polls.

Before I get down the latest nitty-gritty, I will, as always, lay down the structure of the poll:
There is a list of 11 candidates and there are three choices for each candidate; first choice, acceptable and unacceptable. Voters could only vote for one "first choice" but multiple "acceptable" or "unacceptable" results. Based on the ratings that those who took the polls gave themselves, there's a fairly strong representation of the very conservative section of the GOP in the poll.The potential candidates in the survey, listed in alphabetical order, are George Felix Allen Jr., Sam Brownback, Bill Frist, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Chuck Hagel, Mike Huckabee, John McCain, George Pataki, Mitt Romney and Tom Tancredo. At the time of my viewing, there had been 11216 ballots cast. Poll results can be found here.

Okay, at first glance Rudy seems to have regained his position as the top 1st choice nominee. Back in September, Newt had taken over the position by 24.2% to 22.7% - statistically insignificant, really. Now, Rudy has easily reassumed the top slot, with 29.8% to Gingrich's 22.1%. Perennial third place holder Mitt Romney is at 19.3%. As has been the case throughout my monitoring, these three are clearing the top choices by a significant margin. Presumptive favorite McCain garners a pathetic 3.5% of 1st choice votes. The lowest vote getter was Pataki with 0.2%; Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is a close second with 0.9%.

In the acceptable category, there is a slight shift with Romney gaining the top slot with 69.3%
an improvement over September. Rudy moves up to second from third as he experiences a strong rebound - in August, he pulled 66.7, in September-60.7 and now in October he's up to 68%, his best showing since I've been tracking. Newt fell from first to third, though his number has stayed remarkably consistent - 66% in August and September, 65.3% in October. Voters do not appear to waver in their support for Romney, unlike Rudy - something that bears monitoring. As for McCain, he moved up a bit from his September number of 21% - he's now tracking at 22.3%. He's in eighth place this month like he was in September. The bottom feeder is again Pataki with 17.6% - which basically means that 83% of those polled do not find him to be an acceptable candidate for president. And of course, this continues to perplex me as Rudy and Pataki basically have the same political views - social liberal, fiscal conservative - yet Rudy must still be riding the 9/11 America's Mayor garbage. I continue to argue that his support will soon evaporate as voters get to know his liberal positions. He will never get the support of the religious right given his pro-abortion stance.

Finally, we enter the Unacceptable category. Finally, McCain makes the top of a list; unfortunately, it's the bad list. 66.2% find him unacceptable while 65.2 find Chuck Hagel, last month's number one, unacceptable. As for this poll's front runners rate as such: Rudy - 17.6%, Newt - 20.4%, Romney - 15.9%. Gingrich's number remained about the same from September, while Romney's number has dropped from 22.7%. Rudy experienced the biggest drop, falling from 26.9% unacceptable to 17.6% - quite an improvement over a month's time.

One other thing they tabulated was a three-way and a two-way race for the GOP nomination. The three-way consisted of Rudy, Romney and McCain and as if the confirm their disdain for McCain, Rudy got 47.6%, Romney got 42.8% and McCain got 6.6%.
In the two-way "runoff", Rudy got 51% and Romney got 45.3%.

Following my darkhorse candidate, Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, his numbers are 1.1% first choice (down from 1.2% in September), 34.2% acceptable (down from 37.6%) and 37.1% (better than 38.1% in September). As I stated last month, his numbers continue to be anemic, but he is a governor from a southern state (and three of the last five presidents were elected having held the same position - Carter, Clinton and Bush II) and I believe that as time rolls on and people become more familiar with him, his numbers will rise.

What it all means:
Well, after struggling a little bit in September, Rudy seems to have again regained his form as the top guy (I sort of find it odd that Rudy did dip in September given all the 9/11 fifth anniversary stuff that went on as the nation continues to lionize America's Mayor). Romney continues to be strong and may have ticked up a bit, another trend worth following. And Gingrich is right there with Romney. As for McCain - there really is nothing but bad news here. As I've mentioned in the past, this poll asks each participant to rate your level of conservatism from one to 10, 10 being super-conservative. The poll is again made up of a clear 80% of those who consider themselves seven or higher, so this thing is a real slice of the politically and technologically active conservatives. And those politically and technologically active (let's call them PTA) conservatives do not like John McCain. I know here on the left, PTA liberals pride themselves on their grassroots (or as it's called netroots) support of candidates that do not necessarily garner national attention. Now, I'm not suggesting that PTA conservatives are anywhere near PTA liberals as far as size and numbers go, but I would guess that their PTAs will grow over time and they will continue to grow in influence. Personally, I believe that they're about two election cycles behind where the PTA liberals currently are, but I would think by 2010 they could really begin to assert some amount of control over the message of the Republican Party. Whether they will have the kind of clout it will take to get their anti-McCain message out before 2008 seems unlikely.

My two previous Straw Poll posts can be found here:


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