Monday, August 15, 2011

here's another clue for you all

the really fascinating thing about the ames straw poll is the press' reaction to the results. it's not just that they take the poll more seriously than i think it is worth, it's the way that the media only selectively treats it as serious. here are the full results as released by the iowa republican party (the organization that runs the poll):
2011 Straw Poll Full Results (Votes, %)
1. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (4823, 28.55%)
2. Congressman Ron Paul (4671, 27.65%)
3. Governor Tim Pawlenty (2293, 13.57%)
4. Senator Rick Santorum (1657, 9.81%)
5. Herman Cain(1456, 8.62%)
6. Governor Rick Perry (718, 3.62%) write-in
7. Governor Mitt Romney (567, 3.36%)
8. Speaker Newt Gingrich (385, 2.28%)
9. Governor Jon Huntsman (69, 0.41%)
10. Congressman Thad McCotter (35, 0.21%)
Scattering (218, 1.3 %) Includes all those receiving votes at less than one-percent that were not on the ballot.
what political reporters have concluded from these results is that bachmann, perry and romney are now the frontrunners for the GOP nomination. which would be a pretty weird conclusion to reach if you just looked at the vote numbers from ames. of course, political reporters are not just looking at the vote numbers from ames. they are putting those results in the context of other assumptions they bring to the race. among them, the idea that ron paul can never be considered a front runner.

the numbers say that paul came about 150 votes from winning the straw poll, less than 1 percentage point behind bachmann. that's pretty amazing for a guy who is seemingly dismissed as a fringe candidate. gingrich, cain and huntsman get far more serious media attention than ron paul ever does. it's hard to imagine the "fringe candidates" on the democratic side, someone like dennis kucinich or mike gravel, pulling in those kind of numbers in some equivalent media-fixated contest without generating some buzz. and yet, as far as i can see, ron paul almost winning hasn't received much attention at all. paul's numbers are close enough to bachmann's that a few flukes (like an accident with some of bachmann's bussed-in supporters or a storm that depressed turnout) could have resulted in paul winning the thing. if that had happened, could they have ignored him?

UPDATE: see also roger simon.