SHAME to Republicans, CPAC as Paul Hijacks Straw Poll

February 21, 2010 at 5:45 pm Leave a comment

Its February in the American political scene: which means its time for the Conservative Political Action Conference, better known as CPAC. Its been around since the days of Reagan, and generally serves as a kind of yearly national convention where rising stars begin to shine, and where we get a fairly good look at how the next Presidential election is shaping up. Not so this year. Unfortunately, the cultish by tiny segment of the party which falls into the Ron Paul camp has managed to infiltrate the sacred ground that was once place for only serious discussion. After three years of wins by Mitt Romney, and decades of respect as a moderately reliable indicator of how the grassroots were falling, this conference has, essentially, been rendered useless.

The results were about 30% for Paul, 22% for Romney, 7% for Palin, with the others in similar single-digit positions. Clearly, it’s not accurate, but that is perhaps just as worrying as if it were. At this time in a Presidential election cycle, there is only minimal evidence available to help political watchers determine where the race is headed. For a variety of reasons, nationwide polls are unreliable, and only a few polls have been taken of the early states. It’s unlikely either situation will improve prior to next january, when candidates begin to declare their intentions. That forces the rest of us to try to predict the outcome of the race on the basis of other criteria: particularly fundraising, and straw polling. Among these, CPAC has historically been one of the most reliable indicators by attracting an audience generally representative of the base of the party, and allowing them to select their favored candidate.

As for exactly why this happened, well, there are likely a few reasons. Obviously, the Ron Paul cult showed up in force – a sad, true, but ultimately meaningless phenomenon as Paul (well into his seventies) is showing his age and has even conceded he is highly unlikely to run again. There may also have been other factors – neither Sarah Palin nor Mike Huckabee showed up, a fact which likely left many supporters of the “big 3” too  apathetic to vote, either believing they had no hope of winning, or that a win was guaranteed.

 In any event, and despite the meaningless nature of the results, this leaves anyone concerned about 2012 without much to go on. The SRLC (Southern Republican Leadership Conference) might normally have taken the place of CPAC as a reliable indicator, yet that event in New Orleans in April will similarly be short a top contender as Mitt Romney will be halfway through his book tour, and seems unlikely to attend.

Republicans may very well be stuck waiting until early next year for serious insight into the 2012 election.

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Entry filed under: Nation, Politics. Tags: , , , , , , .

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