Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended.”     Frederick Bastiat

August 19, 2007

Ron Paul Wins In Alabama And New Hampshire

by Doug Mataconis

Well, not the primaries, he won two straw polls. But there’s less here than meets the eye.

First let’s look at Alabama:

Tom Tancredo – 0 (0%)
Sam Brownback – 2 (.75%)
John McCain – 2 (.75%)
Mike Huckabee – 6 (2%)
Rudy Giuliani – 7 (3%)
Fred Dalton Thompson – 9 (3%)
Duncan Hunter – 10 (4%)
Mitt Romney – 14 (5%)
Ron Paul – 216 (81%)

That’s right 216 votes out of a total of  266 votes cast. At it’s not entirely clear that many of the other candidates were actively seeking support in this straw poll. While it is impressive to see organization at the grass roots level like this, it’s not an indication of anything significant.

Then there’s New Hampshire:

Ron – 208 (73%)
Romney – 26
Huckabee – 20
Tancredo – 8
McCain – 7
Cox – 5
Hunter – 5
Fred Thompson – 3
Giuliani – 3
Brownback – 1

208 votes out of  286 cast. And, other than Tancredo and Huckabee, Paul was the only candidate who showed up for this straw poll. As I said while discussing the results of the Iowa Straw Poll last week, polls like this are usually pretty meaningless and are almost never an accurate predictor of the winner of a particular primary, or the nomination.

So, I guess what I’m saying, is, don’t let stuff like this lead you to think something significant is happening. It might, but the evidence just isn’t there yet.

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60 Comments

  1. I was at the Alabama event and I think you are being far too pessimistic. The Thompson, Hunter, and Romney campaigns (who placed signs all around the premises) made an official pitch to the audience. Hunter (unlike Paul) even called in to make his appeal….but it did no good. This poll was sponsored by the local GOP establishment. At the very least this speaks volumes about the lack of enthusiasm for the other candidates.

    Comment by David T. Beito — August 19, 2007 @ 11:16 am
  2. Clarification: the Romney campaign was the one that placed signs everywhere.

    Comment by David T. Beito — August 19, 2007 @ 11:17 am
  3. David,

    When you’re talking about less than 300 votes cast, can you really say the results mean anything ?

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — August 19, 2007 @ 11:23 am
  4. The results are significant for two reasons:

    1. In Alabama, the poll received a lengthy article in the Tuscaloosa News two days before, and a nice article afterward about Paul’s win, and the Romney campaign was trying to make a good showing. And tickets were $35, so it’s not like you could just show up.

    2. In New Hampshire, Huckabee and Tancredo and Cox showed up and got absolutely stomped in a critical early primary state. Anyone who thought Paul had slipped behind them due to their bussed in votes in Iowa should regain their confidence that Ron Paul is at the top of the second tier, not them. And Romney was supposed to be popular in NH, right?

    Still a long way to go, but very, very encouraging.

    Comment by Doug D — August 19, 2007 @ 11:37 am
  5. “When you’re talking about less than 300 votes cast, can you really say the results mean anything ?”

    Yes it does mean something. It means people are organized and energized to show up. It means they brought their own energy to the room that probably converted more people. It means that they got press coverage and now people are wondering “Who is Ron Paul?”

    You can be certain that if the other campaigns were doing the stomping they’d be telling the world.

    So I say stomp on! I see this process happening all over. There is no question that Ron Paul supporters are the most energetic and loyal.

    Who knows Doug, you may be eating that Poli. Sci. degree you keep waving in our faces.

    Comment by Yep... — August 19, 2007 @ 11:56 am
  6. Yep,

    If you’ll read the post you’ll see I did note the organization on the grass roots level that led to these wins.

    But you simply can’t take two self-selected straw polls with less than 300 participants a piece as an indication of a wider trend.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — August 19, 2007 @ 12:01 pm
  7. “Self-selected”? Do explain.

    Comment by Paul — August 19, 2007 @ 12:06 pm
  8. Some of the contracted phone polls are conducted using less than 300 respondents. But they are contracted by news agencies, so the results are spread far and wide. Hey, they are scientific, you might say, with people chosen at random. But they often use filters of registered voter, or Republican voter, or primary voter.

    The news/polling game is not necessarily a better indicator than a County Republican event where voters pay $35, even though the results are pumped into every living room.

    There is a “man behind the curtain” of the mainstream news. They will never get behind Ron Paul. The straw polls and the contracted news polls are apples and oranges.

    Comment by Linus P. — August 19, 2007 @ 12:14 pm
  9. Paul,

    The straw poll is “self-selected” because everyone who participated choose to be there. Unlike a traditional poll or a properly conducted exit poll, nobody did anything to try to ensure that the participants were a reflection of a particular target group (whether it’s voters in Ala. and N.H. or Republican voters in those states, or whatever).

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — August 19, 2007 @ 12:23 pm
  10. Linus,

    There is a science behind opinion polling, and it generally works.

    The same companies that conduct political polls also get paid big money by corporations to conduct polls on everything ranging from taste in music to what kind of features people prefer on a Washing Machine. It’s in their interest to make sure they’re as accurate as possible.

    And, at least for the brief moment in time they’re meant to represent, they are for the most part.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — August 19, 2007 @ 12:24 pm
  11. “The straw poll is “self-selected” because everyone who participated choose to be there. Unlike a traditional poll or a properly conducted exit poll, nobody did anything to try to ensure that the participants were a reflection of a particular target group”

    You mean, a “self-selecting group” like “people who actually show up at a place to vote for a candidate”?

    Yeah, totally unscientific. Much better to call people who aren’t paying attention to the race and ask them what they think.

    Like travel agents, stockbrokers and political writers, party hacks and polling companies are going to see their ranks decimated by the little ol’ Internet.

    Comment by Buckwheat — August 19, 2007 @ 12:31 pm
  12. Doug,

    You have to give plenty of credit to the local volunteer groups for effective organization. They were far more successful that any official effort however major or minor made by any of the other national campaign.

    Two volunteer-based efforts turned out 200+ votes and trounced every other candidate. These two showings validates Ron Paul’s campaign model. The decentralized volunteer-based grassroots efforts are producing a number of successful outcomes. Basically, we can say that Ron Paul supporters and volunteers are awesome.

    Although I think a healthy level of skepticism is good, I don’t think you can dismiss all results created by various Ron Paul volunteers in these straw polls. It’s meaningless in terms of measuring support in the general public and it would be a better show of strength if Ron Paul won something bigger, but these results are still a good showing of strength.

    Comment by TanGeng — August 19, 2007 @ 12:32 pm
  13. The straw poll is “self-selected” because everyone who participated choose to be there.

    True, but the important question you need to address is why didn’t the Thompson, Romney, and Hunter fans fail to show up? Why did their “organizations” fail to mount a credible turn out the vote effort? What does this say about their appeal in a Bible belt pro-military state like Alabama?

    As to superiority of organization, I can assure you that the Paul campaign was not a well-oiled machine in this case. I got word about it only in the final week and the national Paul campaign did not even have somebody ready to comment to the crowd when it was all over. It was very much a seat-of-pants, very underfunded, spontaneous, last minute effort.

    Comment by David T. Beito — August 19, 2007 @ 12:32 pm
  14. The accuracy of a sample is correlated with size. All I’m saying is this is politics, and there are business interests in the polling. “Science” is a card to play in the game. But, certainly, polling has to appear to be scientific, or there is no longer any business.

    How does RP get 9% of the Iowa straw poll, but only phone poll at 1%? Why are gambling odds for Romney and RP both at 8-1? This doesn’t seem to me very scientific.

    Real Estate appraisal is similar. An appraiser is supposed to determine a fair market value. If the appraisal is contracted by a banker, you can be sure that the final number is going to support the loan.

    Comment by Linus P. — August 19, 2007 @ 12:54 pm
  15. So our mainstream media makes a huge deal out of ‘phone’ polls, that are free… and only target a few hundred people… and they don’t even acknowledge polls where poeple have to actually show up, pay 35 dollars, and physically vote?

    Wow.

    So being ahead in these free phone polls can make Romney and Giuliani considered ‘front runners’ … yet real, physical polls that cost money to attend are just nullified as ‘meaningless’?

    Just listen to yourself. Read your article outloud, to yourself.

    Thank You.

    You make one good point though, all these polls in no way show a clear indication of who is going to win. That I believe.

    But they ARE significant sir, especially for the next couple months.

    Comment by Jessie Marker — August 19, 2007 @ 1:04 pm
  16. Major props to buckwheat — exactly what I was thinking and wrote about here
    http://btetc.blogspot.com/2007/07/on-scientific-polling.html

    Synopsis: going out and attending straw polls/meetups/signwavings is a lot more similar to going-out-and-voting than is — for example — answering the phone when Gallup calls.

    Comment by Matt C — August 19, 2007 @ 1:04 pm
  17. “why didn’t the Thompson, Romney, and Hunter fans fail to show up?”

    Um… “fail to show up” is exactly what they did. ;)

    Comment by Matt C — August 19, 2007 @ 1:06 pm
  18. Completely insignificant, just like the chamber of commerce polls that show 2 percent support. The only thing that is significant is it now is obvious the so called repub frontrunners have no grass roots support. Its also obvious that the republican party has been castrated due to the neocon agenda and the only hope of winning is with a small government platform like Pauls.

    Comment by johnnyb — August 19, 2007 @ 1:09 pm
  19. Matt,

    The problem with your argument is that the political active segment of the population that gets involved at this very, very early stage of the came is not representative of the people who will actually go to the polls on election day, most of whom are not going to spend their Saturday’s going to a straw poll.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — August 19, 2007 @ 1:10 pm
  20. Hi Doug:

    With all due respect, it does show something; but what is shows is not what most people believe that it shows. If you had said that the straw poll results are not accurate indicators of current popularity among the public, I would agree.
    However, what it does show is the ability to put “boots on the ground,” so to speak, at public events. This is great news for the Paul campaign for two reasons:

    1) It shows his supporters can materialize in the real world, already in far greater numbers than ANY competitor in the Republican race (even all of them combined!), and not just on the internet as some detractors have claimed.

    2) One thing I have learned in life is that time can be exchanged for money and vice versa; this seems elementary, but what it means is that anything that normally takes a lot of money can still be accomplished without the cash, provided you have enough person-hours to substitute for that cash.
    Eg., Romney could produce a new postcard by hiring a professional PR firm to deisgn, test, and market a new design. He’d then hire people to produce the cards, address them, mail them, etc. Paul, on the other hand, has volunteers doing designs like this free of charge just to help him get elected; small people buying small quantities through online sources like vistaprint can get them produced, and mailing could be done by small groups, nationwide, meeting over kitchen tables.
    They may be able to regulate political donations, but that doesn’t mean that millions of dollars in free labor can not be directed to the Paul campaign by tens, or hundreds, of thousands of volunteers. What someone like Romney would produce at the cost of millions of dollars can be produced for Paul at no cost to the campaign, PROVIDED there are enough volunteers.

    In my opinion, these two polls show that the number of people joining the ranks to reach the mass needed to overcome the dollars of Romney and Rudy are already growing at a breakneck pace.

    No, it’s important not to read too much into these polls, but it is even more important to realize WHAT the poll is measuring; in this case, not popular support, but numbers of volunteers.

    If you have enough volunteers, you can win. Now add the fact that Ron Paul is in the leaderboard for cash on hand, and the Paul campaign seems to me to be in fine shape for the road ahead.

    Comment by James Maynard — August 19, 2007 @ 1:11 pm
  21. The only point of reference I have is my own. I never heard of Ron Paul before in my life. I got started working in the real world, sat down to figure out my 2006 tax return, saw that I paid $16,000 in federal income tax and said to myself, this is tyranny! So, I went to find out about the income tax and ran into the Aaron Russo Freedom to Facism video (I think that is what it was called) and learned about Ron Paul. The rest they say is history. I’ve already donated $100 and attended two meetups!! At the first meetup the group as a whole rounded up $2500!! I saw all this first hand. I talked to other supporters and you can hear their passion. Regardless of what anyone else says, Ron Paul has gone from being “nobody” to “somebody” in a very short period of time. Win or lose, Ron is making a strong run and I think things will get very close down the strech as Ron Paul supporters prepare for chrunch time!

    Comment by steve — August 19, 2007 @ 1:15 pm
  22. I was at the Alabama Straw Poll and I can tell you that the crowd was estatic (sp). I have known of Ron Paul since reading of his articles in the Foundation of Eduction publications in the early 1980′s. He is honest, sincere, candid, and unwavering in his positions. His positions are well thought out. It is truely amazing that someone like him could be elected to Congress for so many years. I think that when (and if) people really take the time to examine his positions and why he hold them they will recognize that there is none other like him running for president. I just hope people will care enough about what is happening to this country to take the effort to really listen to him.

    Comment by silverman — August 19, 2007 @ 1:34 pm
  23. Doug,

    I just can’t help but reply. Doug you lack the abliity to show cause and effect. With the Zobgy polls the polling is usually a very small group of calls. I know for a fact based on someone who works at Zogby that they place calls to a very narrow and predicatible gop members in order to provide support of Mitt, Romney, etc. They malipulate the polling… The numbers are then presetned to Mainstream media which is nothing less then a controlled media source.

    Everyone wants to know why Ron Paul isn’t obtaining MSM attention well it’s not for the implied reasons they suggest but rather driven by other motives. You see every major media source is supported by a member of the CFR who has been rather vocal about support of the Real ID Act, Us Patrieat Act, World Govement views, North American Union, etc. Ron Paul opposes nearly every view from the CFR which effects his abliity to become a media poster boy for MSM. When Zobgy reports the numbers its then dispursed to other media sources.

    We have caught Fox News and ABC erassing polling numbers when Ron Paul is ahead after each debate… Why? Paul is for the people by the people and he is a huge threat to mainstream media.

    Keep in mind Shawn Hannity, Rush and other neocon minded reporters stated early on that Paul was just a group of kids in the basesment eating hot pockets spamming the polls. However, Fox could not explain the polling results with text message which only allowed one vote per phone number.

    The webmaster team at Fox also confirmed they used a single ip address for other online polling and ABC also verifed the same information to prevent multiplue votes…. Yet, Fox news stated on national tv that Paul was spamming the vote. However, I did receive an email of confirmation from Fox stating from a webmaster is was in fact a single IP address. Now keep in mind the only other way around the single IP vote is the use of “wireless” as the IP address will cycle times and this is the only way someone could create online vote duplicate votes.

    Moving to the GOP sponsored staw polls. When Zoby, Washington Post or other polls such as Gallup complete a poll it’s again in most every case a narrow voting method in most cases 150-500 respondents (for the most part)

    The key point to paying attention to current Ron Paul MSM news is this:

    Rush, Hannity and others stated on several ocassions that while Ron Paul may do well with online polls and as time passed and GOP sponsored polls (they did clearly this point) State, City or county GOP sponsored staw polls we would see Paul in the bottom and likened this fact to the 1-2% showing in the Zogby or other national polls. Now we are seeing boots on the ground and great support for Ron Paul accross the nation.

    When we recall the GOP talking heads of months ago we now have significant evidence to suggest Ron Paul is without a doubt a main stream canidate.

    I ran some numbers and only focused on GOP sponsored staw polls (state, city, county) held since Jan of this year and I included the poll results from Fox online poll since it’s a valid poll and so is ABC. If you do the numbers then Ron Paul is in third position. However, if you take into account MSN’s online poll it places Ron Paul in second overall. I can not prove how MSN conducted the poll so I did not include it within the data.

    Now that Ron Paul is by his own efforts and the support of dedicated people is in third place overall we only need to watch how they spin this information. I’m going to try to get throug to Rush and Hannity to see if I can be a caller and present the information just after my press release on prweb.com.

    I think this data is very compelling. Keep in mind if they want to be fair overall then this is an objective view point and one which we should all celebrate.

    The fact is they can’t dispute GOP sponsored straw poll results. Ron Paul has positioned his efforts to find favor with the nation and not just a single state. If others who placed ahead of Paul in Iowa had a real chance then why didn’t they place ahead of Paul in NH and AL.

    I for one can see how Ron Paul can win, don’t you?

    I welcome the reply of others…. I see great sucess for Paul just around the corner and as long as he equals his funding efforts or exceeds the last reporting the MSM can’t ignore his success and must include him if not I predict a major media revolt as others realize how corrupt our media and gov are.

    Comment by Darel99 — August 19, 2007 @ 1:40 pm
  24. There is a revolt already going on. I have talked to some individuals who aren’t really being political but their friends are. The friends are Ron Paul supporters and while these individuals aren’t supporters they are indeed upset in the way they can see that Ron Paul is being ignored. It makes them worry about how the media treats other issues more important to them. Keep hacking away!!

    Comment by steve — August 19, 2007 @ 1:48 pm
  25. Hi Darel99,

    Thank you for your constructive comments.

    Could you, please, present your study with links to the data in the Ron Paul Meetup at:

    http://ronpaul.meetup.com/boards/

    Worldwide Ron Paul 2008 Meetup Message Board

    There are many competent Ron Paul supporters there, who can spread your information and make a good use for it.

    You can just register free in the Meetup.com in the site above, hit “Start a New Discussion” bottom and post a message. It will be available immediately to over 30,000 Ron Paul meetup members.

    Best.

    Comment by DefendTheConstitution — August 19, 2007 @ 2:29 pm
  26. Folks please forgive my spelling/grammer errors I was in a major accident and it’s the best I can do at the moment… Text of most any size is veyr hard for me to see…..

    In Regards to “Defend the constitution’s” comments sure I will post at the meetup after my press release is presented. You see I just completed a rather long article about Mitt and is all supported by facts while he was the gov of his state.

    My webmaster has my instructions and once my PR is on preweb.com by wed of next week I will be sure to post it as you requested.

    In my view if Paul obtained the attention of the MSM or was at least given at least 15% more airtime it would eliminate Mitt and Rudy. However, I fear as i study recent history and former historical events the CFR has a lot to do with who becomee the poster boy or girl of either party.

    I have just put a small buss on the major highways to travel to small towns and cities to spread his message as well. I will post the details on meetup as well. I can’t travel 24-7 but I have some supporters from our local group who will try to keep it going at least 4 days a week. If my business keepds doing well I will put four more on the highway…. At the moment our first one is being painted with Paul’s bullet points and my company is the sponsor to keep things legal I found out it was even best to put that we are not part of paul’s 2008 efforts but a private source.

    Anyway, godbless every Paul supporter, Ron’s family and his 2008 office of sucess.

    I would like to receive other feedback regarding my earlier post.

    Comment by Darel99 — August 19, 2007 @ 2:59 pm
  27. daryl writes: …they place calls to a very narrow and predicatible gop members in order to provide support of Mitt, Romney, etc. They malipulate the polling …

    Which is true in fact, but not intent.
    The pollsters call those people who have asserted that they voted in a previous GOP primary, which is the only way they can get “likely Republican voters”. Of course, that list is populated by long-time, established, party officials and elderly activists.

    What Doug is missing is that the current, new, unestablished, unofficialed activists is a totally different set of people than those polled.
    The dubious assumption is that the “old” group is more representative of the likely voter than the “new” group.
    Even if that were true, elections are won by a preponderance of enthusiasm for a candidate, not loyalty to the party machine.

    The Alabama straw poll was particularly instructive, because there were two ballots: one from the “new” group and one from the “old”. In the general poll, Paul won overwhelmingly. In the “party officials only” poll, he didn’t get a single vote.

    If there’s any lesson to be drawn, it is that the party officialdom is out of touch with the activists supporting a worthy candidate. That should have been obvious long ago.

    n’t quite true.

    Comment by Bill Westmiller — August 19, 2007 @ 3:01 pm
  28. Doug,
    That is indeed a problem with my argument. But
    1. It’s not a fatal problem. The people who are already politically active can be expected to keep doing what they’re doing (promoting Ron Paul free of charge), and consequently will shape the primary and the eventual campaign.
    2. Yes, the people who just pick up the phone and answer a Gallup poll might be more “representative” of the (Nov ’08) electorate. But the Nov ’08 electorate will not have 9 Republicans to choose from. This is a question about who will/should win the primary, and should be posed to people who are likely primary voters, not the general public.

    I submit that — though still not perfect — straw-poll attendees are a better cross-section of primary voters than phone-answerers.

    Comment by Matt C — August 19, 2007 @ 3:11 pm
  29. Matt,

    I like Ron Paul alot. I like his ideas even more.

    But I know Republicans well enough to know that the GOP is too far gone to nominate someone like Ron Paul.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — August 19, 2007 @ 3:19 pm
  30. Come on, Doug, lighten up. Politics needs to simply be fun sometimes, and supporters of Ron Paul are having fun going to these straw polls and walloping the opposition. It doesn’t matter if it means something 5-6 months down the road. It is fun now. All supporters of Ron Paul should simply enjoy it for the moment. :-)

    Comment by Ken H — August 19, 2007 @ 3:24 pm
  31. Great discussion! I see a strong push for Ron Paul here in North Idaho! It is about to get stronger. I am about to place a huge sign in the front yard, and I am a talkative person who is telling everyone I contact about how Ron Paul is the ONLY person worth voting for. And yes, the straw polls are significant in the fact they show that non-cyberspace support is out here, just being ignored by those globalists who stand to lose from Ron Paul in the white house.

    Comment by chris m — August 19, 2007 @ 3:48 pm
  32. When you’re talking about less than 300 votes cast, can you really say the results mean anything ?

    If the sample is random enough… Maybe the same people “spamming” the online polls are also spamming these straw polls?

    Comment by js290 — August 19, 2007 @ 4:11 pm
  33. [...] Ron Paul Wins In Alabama And New Hampshire Liberty Papers – Elk Grove,CA,USA And, other than Tancredo and Huckabee, Paul was the only candidate who showed up for this straw poll. As I said while discussing the results of the Iowa … See all stories on this topic Candidates here, there and everywhere today in NH Boston Globe – United States Republicans Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee and Democrat Barack Obama all are campaigning with primary voters today. Texas US Rep. Ron Paul is expected at the … See all stories on this topic [...]

    Pingback by The Carnal Conservative » Blog Archive » News — August 19, 2007 @ 4:48 pm
  34. js290,

    If the sample is random enough… Maybe the same people “spamming” the online polls are also spamming these straw polls?

    If you understand statistics, you’ll understand that there is nothing random about either an online poll or a straw poll.

    And that’s why they can’t be taken as a valid indication of any candidates true level of support among the population as a whole.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — August 19, 2007 @ 5:19 pm
  35. Ken,

    Politics needs to simply be fun sometimes, and supporters of Ron Paul are having fun going to these straw polls and walloping the opposition. It doesn’t matter if it means something 5-6 months down the road. It is fun now. All supporters of Ron Paul should simply enjoy it for the moment. :-)

    I don’t disagree. I just think there needs to be me a little more realism thrown into the discussion.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — August 19, 2007 @ 5:20 pm
  36. What Doug is missing is that the current, new, unestablished, unofficialed activists is a totally different set of people than those polled.
    The dubious assumption is that the “old” group is more representative of the likely voter than the “new” group.
    Even if that were true, elections are won by a preponderance of enthusiasm for a candidate, not loyalty to the party machine.

    First, I don’t think we’ve seen any evidence that this is true yet.

    Second, even if it is, it is unclear at this point that they represent a sufficiently large percentage of the likely-to-vote public to have a real impact on any given primary day.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — August 19, 2007 @ 5:22 pm
  37. “I like Ron Paul alot. I like his ideas even more.
    But I know Republicans well enough to know that the GOP is too far gone to nominate someone like Ron Paul.”

    Doug Mataconis…part-time concern troll, full-time anti-Ron Paul activist!

    Comment by Buckwheat — August 19, 2007 @ 5:52 pm
  38. Doug, any one or two straw polls can be dismissed due to sample bias or any number of isses.

    But we’re talking about a consistent pattern here, though — in each of the dozen or so straw polls I’ve seen, Ron Paul scores in double digits, often in high double digits (OK, 9.1% in Iowa was the low).

    Which means the online polls, the text-messaging polls, and the straw polls have Ron Paul on top.

    The only polls that say differently are the ones where they call people who aren’t paying attention to the race, still own/answer a land line, and spend enough time at home to be able to answer it. And then they call this a “scientific” poll. Well, I guess phrenology was considered a science once, too…

    Comment by Buckwheat — August 19, 2007 @ 5:56 pm
  39. These straw polls serve a few purposes. First it gives Ron Paul some positive local news coverage. Second Ron Paul’s campaign started at the bottom. These wins give Ron Paul’s supporters hope for future victory and boosts the morale of the campaign.
    There is no doubt Ron Paul support is growing by the day. Gallup Poll 8/15/2007 shows Ron now at 3%. I would say his real support is a couple percentage points higher at 5%. His chance for victory is to keep growing in support and hope it accelerates around November. Hope most of the candidates stay in to split the vote up some. Everyone agrees that is a long shot but it is possible. I know a lot of Republicans and none of them are inspired by any of the top tier including Fred

    Comment by Sean — August 19, 2007 @ 6:17 pm
  40. Doug Mataconis, there to remind fellow Ron Paul supporters that the sky REALLY IS falling.

    Comment by Chris S — August 19, 2007 @ 6:35 pm
  41. No one is saying that this is ULTIMATELY significant: the ONLY votes that WILL be ULTIMATELY significant will be 1) the primary (which is what really matters for now…) and then 2) the General Election in November of 2008.

    But where the purpose of this article is clearly to detract from the significance of Ron Paul’s victories in Alabama and New Hampshire – what these events DO show is the tremendous significance of the grassroots support behind Ron Paul.

    Whatever MIGHT be said, the fact is that UNLESS Romney, Giuliani, McCain – or any of the other candidates WITH THE EXCEPTION OF RON PAUL – show up to campaign and spend money, nothing is happening for them.

    Regardless of whether or not he shows up to campaign, Ron Paul’s SUPPORTERS are out to campaign for him and to VOTE for him. The results are asymmetrical.

    Its not like Ron Paul’s supporters are winning a victory for him or here or there and Giuliani’s supporters or McCains or – anyone else you might name – are securing victories for them in other places: Ron Paul has a groundswell of popular support that is unparalleled.

    The Reason: well, in my opinion, the reason is obvious: Ron Paul’s campaign is NOT about Ron Paul. Rudy Giuliani’s campaign is – clearly – all about Rudy. “Aint that Rudy, swell. Wasn’t that nice of him to mix and mingle with those folks in New York after 9/11.” Rudy is trying to ride the wave of popularity and sympathy arising from the mere coincidence fact that he just happened to be mayor of New York on 9/11/07 all the way to the White House. Did he do a good job? No better than should be expected of anyone – in my opinion. And it WAS his JOB. Give him a pat on the back? Sure. Make him PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES for that??? Well, I obviously wouldn’t.

    By comparison, Ron Paul’s campaign is NOT about Ron Paul so much as it is about Ron Paul’s PRINCIPLES. Ron Paul’s supporters simply want to return to the Constitution. More than that they genuinely want a much smaller, much less intrusive and much less EXPENSIVE government. They don’t want the government to do much at all for them …and they want a tax basis to match. They want the war over with. What’s more, they want the U.S. Military to provide for the Common Defense OF THE UNITED STATES: Not of the whole damned world!

    There is, however, ONE aspect in which the Ron Paul campaign IS very much about RON PAUL. People BELIEVE in Ron Paul. They see him as a man of integrity. They respect him as the man of character that his actions have made him and proven him to be. He lives by the principles he advocates. He does not participate in the Congressional Pension Plan. He does not take junkets. He put his kids through college WITHOUT government loans because he does not believe people who never go to college should have to pay for those that do.

    By comparison, Mitt Romney (somewhat like John Kerry) ‘was FOR socialized health care before he was AGAINST it.’ By comparison, the differences between Giuliani and Hillary Clinton (the candidates all Republicans love to hate) are entirely QUANTITATIVE – NOT QUALITATIVE.

    As a whole, Ron Paul’s supporters represent people who would rather NOT vote than continue voting for “the lesser of two evils.” At long last we have found a Man whom we can enthusiastically support and vote FOR as a person who represents the kind of government we want.

    It could not be more obvious that those who detract from his campaign are thoroughly frustrated that people who have no real principles can never hope to have the appeal of a man like Ron Paul. They are obviously frustrated to find that no one supporting any one other than Ron Paul is really supporting their candidate(s) with any thing LIKE the same enthusiasm that Ron Paul’s supporters have. Even his detractors know that Ron Paul has principles: they are simply afraid of the consistency of his principles. At the bottom line, they have come to love being citizens of a superpower far more than they love FREEDOM and – now being put to the test – would prefer to have POWER and security than FREEDOM.

    IN LIBERTY!,

    James Hines

    Comment by James Hines — August 19, 2007 @ 6:39 pm
  42. Doug,

    Your point on determination of who will win the nomination is correct. No one is predicting this, but only getting excited about the excitement. If I say Ron Paul will be the next president, it is hopeful banter although not different than if I was supporting Mitt Romney. You could bring odds into the picture but the online betting odds and the futures market (intrade.com) do not disfavor Ron Paul.

    All that aside, I am responding because of your obvious lack of attention during your PolSci statistics course during your undergrad work. First, none of the polling companies have provided statistically significant samples to be worthy of objective news stories. 1000 participants is considered significant for the sampled population. The sample population is another flaw in your worship of the current numbers. These are not randomly dialed telephone numbers in the truest sense. Instead they are randomly selected from prescribed phone lists. Within these phone lists, the individual has to first CHOOSE to respond to the pollsters questions, then identify himself as a likely voter or whatever others discriminator the poll is using. Then there is national name recognition. Mitt Romney, Rudy, and McCain were all annointed as the ‘likely’ leading candidates in the Summer of 2006 in the MSM. Is there any wonder why they, except McCain recently, have had national success in polls?

    The question is not what today brings this primary season, but what the cumulation of the next 150 days will bring. Nobody can predict with certainty, but we can surely jack up the energy and hope.

    Ron Paul 2008 — Hope for America

    Comment by James Aragon — August 19, 2007 @ 6:57 pm
  43. Correction to my comment above; for studies in the political science arena, samples of over 1000 are NORMALLY required in order to be considered statistically significant. Sample error margins themselves are do not tell the whole story.

    Comment by James Aragon — August 19, 2007 @ 7:25 pm
  44. I agree that these straw polls are meaningless. (Did anyone notice that the bigger the straw poll the lower Paul’s percent of the vote?) Remember that Keyes won the Alabama poll 8 years ago and we all know that campaign went nowhere. But having said all that I’d rather win than lose. Anything that gets people noticing Ron Paul is a good thing and winning these gets Paul noticied at least in the local press.

    Comment by Bob — August 19, 2007 @ 7:56 pm
  45. As Gandhi said, “Everything we do is meaningless but we must do it anyway.”

    I am happy Ron Paul won the polls, however. You folks can argue into the night as to whether they matter.

    Comment by zenpiper — August 19, 2007 @ 8:45 pm
  46. You’re pretty much right in your observations. As other candidates continue to drop out and the field narrows, Ron should continue to grow in real support. In a head to head contest with either Guiliani or Romney, Ron would do quite well I’m sure. McCain should just drop out now along with Brownback.

    Comment by Chad — August 19, 2007 @ 8:51 pm
  47. I just can’t understand why you are so dead set on constantly trivializing the candidate who most represents your ideals. Anyways…

    The total votes for these two straw polls comes to about 600. Does that number sound familiar? That’s how many people where polled by phone in the Rasmussen Reports sample, a poll which you and so many other sources have cited as proving that Ron Paul doesn’t stand a chance. So explain this: Why is it that when Ron Paul only gets 1% of 600 votes, you claim on your site that he is doomed, but when he gets 80% of 600 votes, you say that it is not really that big of a deal?

    How can you claim that “the evidence isn’t there yet” for a successful Paul campaign when hundreds of people showed up to give the man a landslide victory? How are these two real-world, physical events not more evidence of success than a random telephone poll of people who didn’t even have to get up off of their couches?

    Huh?

    Comment by Dustin Timbrook — August 19, 2007 @ 9:55 pm
  48. Dustin,

    The total votes for these two straw polls comes to about 600. Does that number sound familiar? That’s how many people where polled by phone in the Rasmussen Reports sample, a poll which you and so many other sources have cited as proving that Ron Paul doesn’t stand a chance. So explain this: Why is it that when Ron Paul only gets 1% of 600 votes, you claim on your site that he is doomed, but when he gets 80% of 600 votes, you say that it is not really that big of a deal?

    Because there’s a difference between the opinion of a randomly selected sample of the voting population and the opinion of people who are motivated enough to spend a Saturday 6 months or more before the first primary worrying about politics.

    Yes, the people who came out and supported Ron Paul deserve credit. And the campaign deserves credit for a credible grassroots effort, but there’s no way that this can be taken as a sign of how things will go when the primaries start.

    Like I said in the post, there may be something happening, but the evidence for it just isn’t there yet.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — August 19, 2007 @ 10:03 pm
  49. Chad,

    I would just as soon not have all the other candidates drop out. Dr. Paul needs quite a few candidates in the race to have a chance in the republican primary. He needs the republican establishment/pro-war vote spread out among a number of republican candidates to have a chance. I would like to see five or six other candidates still in the race during primary season.

    What I see possibly happening is Dr. paul getting 20-35% of the vote, possibly enough to have the highest %, but then with lower candidates dropping out their votes would go to a different candidate, but not Ron Paul. The establishment would push enough candidates out of the race (with whatever means possible) so as to ensure that Ron Paul would not win. That is my biggest concern. With a populated field of candidates he has a rather good chance. With only a couple of other candidates his chances go down significantly.

    Comment by TerryP — August 19, 2007 @ 10:12 pm
  50. Doug, which elections are not self-selected?

    Comment by Mike — August 19, 2007 @ 10:28 pm
  51. Doug,
    I say these straw polls are extremely important since only 10-20% of republicans vote in the PRIMARY. I do not have the source of that information, so if it is incorrect, plese enlighten me.

    This is the most important thing to remember…

    If dedicated and enthusiastic supporters from a candidate will show up for a straw poll they will most likely vote in the primary.

    Make sure you are registered so that you can vote in your state’s primary. I had to switch from independant so i could vote for Ron Paul.

    I say, it is okay to be a republican if you are voting for Ron Paul!
    Brett from Phoenix, AZ

    Comment by a Patriot — August 19, 2007 @ 10:46 pm
  52. The Alabama poll was event conducted by West Alabama Republican Assembly (WARA) a conservative group dedicated to restoring traditional values. They sent a ton of emails about the event I got six or seven. Price to attend was cheaper if sent in before August. All the candidates had chance to win they just chose not to. I heard that a local developer that banked Rudy’s visit to Tuscaloosa bought block tickets for students. I wish had know to hit him for one. BRUCE

    Comment by Bruce S — August 20, 2007 @ 12:51 am
  53. “Lay down GI, lay down GI! your man will never win!” (previously recorded)

    DM would make a really good chicom propagandist

    Comment by bromonation — August 20, 2007 @ 7:25 am
  54. I’d like to say something about a position I’ve heard all too often in one form or another regarding Ron Paul’s candidacy. “I like what he says, but I don’t want to throw my vote away on a candidate that won’t win.”

    If you look at the final tally for any election you’ve ever voted in, and just mentally move your vote to the other column, did it ever make the difference in the election? One vote never does. Add to that the fact that even in the general election almost half of the votes cast go to the losing side. Are they just “throwing their votes away”?

    In reality the election is an opinion poll, asking the electorate, as individuals, whom they most favor for office. Why in the world would someone want to claim an opinion they didn’t actually have, in a secret ballot mind you, all in the name of voting for a winner?

    It makes no sense. I want to voice my opinion, and I’m going to just for the sake of doing it. And I’m voting for Ron Paul, whether I think he’s going to win, or not.

    Comment by David — August 20, 2007 @ 10:34 am
  55. I’ll preface this by saying I have a pretty good understanding of statistics, but not necessarily how polling is conducted. That said, here’s my thought’s on Paul’s actual support level.

    As stated by some other comments, the scientific polls attempt to pin down “likely Republican primary voters.” I’ve read that a typical requirement would be a voter who participated in the last Republican presidential primary. This is completely logical and would seem a proper approach. Each election, only a small percentage will be “new” voters. Assuming a cyle purely based on old voters dying and new voters coming of age, you’d expect less than 10% to be new.

    Considering that, as long as that new population is relatively similar in behavior to the old, then they can be ignored completely w/o effecting the poll very much.

    What would throw this whole system for a loop is if a candidate attracted significant levels of support from folks outside that “likely Republican” group. Paul is certainly doing this, but we might ask ourselves, how much?

    Well, here is a completely unscientific, self-selected group of Paul supporters with their political affiliation broken down.
    http://rally.ronpaulplanet.org/stats.php

    It’s a sample (again, self-selected) of about 2000 of Paul’s grass roots volunteers – You’ll find approx 25% identify themselves as Republican, a little over 30% as independent, about 20% as Libertarian, and the rest Democrat, and Constitution Party members (and even a few Greens).

    Now, knowing the above is not scientific, that 25% (Republican) number seems reasonable at this point in time. If that’s the case and the polling companies do filter for previous republican primary voters, then it would seem that Paul’s actual support may be about 4x the polls.

    Based on that logic, his support could easily be 4x what the polls are reporting.

    Comment by Zack — August 20, 2007 @ 11:39 am
  56. How come an ABC News/Washington Post poll with the headline “Romney Leading in Iowa”(that came out before the Iowa straw poll and debate) can be cited as gospel…with only 400 people polled…but a straw poll with a few hundred people is “not significant”. I don’t get how we determine what polls are legitimate and what polls aren’t. It seems to me, the ones where Dr. Paul doesn’t do well are worth headlines, and the ones where Dr. Paul dominates are ignored.

    Comment by Natalie — August 20, 2007 @ 12:37 pm
  57. I’ve read all these comments about the two polling camps: the phone polls and the straw polls. The phone polls have the problem that they’re selected randomly but from very specifically chosen lists of phone numbers. The straw polls have the problem that they’re self-selected.

    Aren’t we forgetting something? Come Primary Election Day, who will be the people voting at the polls? The people who choose to vote!

    The real election won’t be a RANDOM SAMPLE at all!

    Comment by Matt Whitlock — August 20, 2007 @ 3:14 pm
  58. I understand promoting caution and reason in interpreting such results as these straw polls, and while I certainly encourage a measured and systematic approach to further Ron Paul promotion, fostering a realistic interpretation of success, I DO NOT see a reason to balk at celebration here among Ron Paul supporters!

    This website’s recent willingness to dismiss Ron Paul successess is starting to border on pathological and – at least in this reader’s mind – is beginning to cast some doubts as to the political allegiance of this website’s authors and thus their understanding and willingness to see a true constitutionalist in the Oval Office.

    Of course I could be wrong about this, but that knowledge alone is not enough to quell suspicions of bias…even on a website supposedly promoting real patriotism and constitutionalism. If you are truly what you claim to be and are merely promoting caution, I suggest being very careful and aware that the effect you might be having on those people who would otherwise travel great distances to show support for this man. On the other hand, if you are running interference and trying to disrupt and stymie Ron Paul support, I’d say “nice try”, but would remind you that you will NOT be successful in your apparent goal.

    A reminder to Ron Paul supporters out there: take heart, vote in the primaries in your state, take all your friends and family with you, and together we CAN make a change, despite what the naysayers might think. And then, if by some miracle, someone other than Dr. Paul pulls out the GOP nomination – AKA some criminal piece of $hit – we’ll flood Dr. Paul with pleas to run on a third party ticket and turn this whole damned election on its head by stealing votes from both sides of the Republi-crat machine.

    The time is real…the time is now…
    Viva la revolution!

    Comment by Brad — August 20, 2007 @ 5:15 pm
  59. First, don’t think that 300 voters is not a poll. When the MSM tells you that so and so is only polling 3% in NH, that is a poll taken by phone of 300 likely voters, never more than 400.

    So how are these Republican gatherings any different in numbers?

    I know, it would seem that the MSM poll would be from thousands, I thought so too…but not so.

    And Westmiller you are right…at Hillsborough, there was no poll but the overwhelming majority of the 500 there were for Ron…the others in the old guard feel he’s too ‘right wing’ which makes me laugh because some neocons accuse him of being a lefty!

    So which is it? Devil or angel?

    Great birthday party today — Ron is an angel…

    Comment by NH — August 20, 2007 @ 5:17 pm
  60. If you agree with Ron Paul please sign the petition to Abolish the Federal Reserve.

    Now in August 2007, the world financial systems and investment markets, real estate and the availability of credit are all under direct assault due to past actions of the Federal Reserve in the United States.

    Read and sign the Ron Paul Is Right – Abolish the Federal Reserve Petition at http://www.petitiononline.com/fed/petition.html

    Please link to the petition and forward this message to your friends and help the general public wake up during the current financial panic conditions to the problems we face from the Federal Reserve and Ron Paul’s solution.

    Also read comments from hundreds of signers who aren’t shy in saying what they think of the FED.

    Comment by Ron Holland — August 23, 2007 @ 2:17 pm

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