As promised, here is the analysis of the initial 2008 GOP Presidential Straw Poll. First, the final tally:
Condoleezza Rice: 553 (43%)
George Allen: 155 (12%)
Rudy Giuliani: 145 (11%)
OTHER: 101 (7%)
Mitt Romney: 80 (6%)
Jeb Bush: 75 (5%)
John McCain: 71 (5%)
Bill Frist: 41 (3%)
Arnold Schwarzenegger: 19 (1%)
Sam Brownback: 17 (1%)
Tom Ridge: 12 (1%)
TOTAL VOTES: 1269
Now, what does this mean?
I believe that if Condi Rice decided to run for President, she would walk away with the nomination. With support already close to 50%, even if all of the lesser candidates dropped out, giving the bulk of their support to Allen or Giuliani in a two-person race against Rice, odds are good that Rice would win over enough to push her into a solid majority. In a three-person race, there is no way anyone beats Rice to a plurality.
Condi is our nominee. But only if she runs, that is.
Condi keeps deflecting those asking her to run. She has said she isn't interested. Where is her support going to go if she keeps good on her word? Here is a fun exercise: recalculating the support of everyone else with Condi's votes removed:
George Allen: 21%
Rudy Giuliani: 20%
Mitt Romney: 11%
Jeb Bush: 10%
John McCain: 10%
Bill Frist: 6%
Arnold Schwarzenegger: 3%
Sam Brownback: 2%
Tom Ridge: 2%
Total non-Rice votes: 736
We'll have to poll again with Condi removed to see if this holds up, or shifts.
George Allen and Rudy Giuliani seem to be about tied more or less for the second prize here. I think either one would be a formidable candidate. But each has a very different base of support. It is hard to determine which, if either, candidate would benefit by Condi taking her name out of consideration. Allen is a classical conservative, what some might call a "good ol' boy." He comes from a big football family. He comes from Virginia, the capital of the Old South. And he is entrenched in the Republican Party machine. People who associate Rice with Bush, with Southern conservatives, with the party establishment, will rally around Allen. Giuliani is a celebrity. He is urbane. He is more moderate socially. He is more intellectual. People who are less likely to rally around Bush may be big Condi fans, as she represents things like women, minorities, and the educated elite. Many of these Condi fans may be drawn to someone like Giuliani.
And then comes OTHER. I am fascinated to see OTHER beating John McCain. I think I can say with complete satisfaction that McCain is dead on arrival when it comes to the 2008 primaries. He will be the Dick Gephardt of this campaign. Remember that shortly before the Iowa caucuses, people, including myself, still looked at Gephardt as a formidable candidate, entrenched in his Party leadership, supported by big labor, and a favorite in the media. Then attention turned to Howard Dean, and Dean had a meltdown, and everyone forgot about Gephardt. He ended up fourth in Iowa, a state where he was supposed to have a huge base of support. What happened to Gephardt? He paid too much attention to what the media and the punditry were saying about him, and not enough attention to what actual voters were saying. I think McCain is now where Gephardt was in 2003. He thinks he is the big fish in the small GOP pond. He thinks he has earned the nomination simply by being John McCain. So he doesn't care what voters think, as long as he gets good press. McCain is in for a big, big shock in 2008. I wonder if he will follow Gephardt's example, and retire and fade away?
So... who are the "others" anyway? Well, there is a lot of talk about Tom Tancredo and Newt Gingrich. One person has mentioned Mike Leavitt.
And then comes the peanut gallery. Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush both receive some token support. Neither has enough support to seriously consider running for President at this time. Maybe both of them should run for the Senate. Massachusetts has two big liberals who could get picked off by a good campaign by Romney. And Jeb is so popular in Florida, if he ran for the Senate he'd win against the incumbent democrat without much effort at all. If both won, that could finally be enough to tip the Senate scales over into the conservative side. President Bush desperately needs this in 2006; his successor may also need it come 2008. It's food for thought. Still... they both did better than McCain...
Bill Frist has a little more than one year left in the Senate to prove himself. So far, he has really failed as Senate leader to pull the GOP caucus together. When the President has a solid majority in the Senate and still has to make recess appointments, there is a problem. Frist is retiring from the Senate after 2006. If he doesn't do something, anything, in the next year, he will leave with no legacy, and no chance whatsoever of ever winning another election. Maybe he should go back to medicine. From what I understand, he really is an outstanding heart surgeon.
Arnold, oh Arnold, how you disappoint me! I admit it, I really thought Arnold would have had more support. Sure, he is a social liberal. But he is hard core on three big issues: defense, borders, and spending. Maybe he is more Libertarian than Republican. But then he is soft on guns, so Libertarians are probably shunning him. And of course, there has been very little momentum on the Amendment movement. Maybe Arnold is another Governor who should set his sights on the Senate. Could you imagine a Senate where Mitt Romney defeats Ted Kennedy, and Arnold defeats Dianne Feinstein?
And that brings us down to two candidates with virtually no support: Sam Brownback and Tom Ridge. Honestly, I don't think either one is seriously considering running for President. But, when I set up this poll, I included them because several pundits had suggested them as dark horse contenders. Some pegged Brownback as the man to win over the hard religious right, the way Buchanan did in 1992. Others pegged Ridge as the natural successor to Bush to continue the War on Terror. Obviously, neither one lit much of a fire under you voters.
Now then: the time has come to start a new poll. Look over on the right, and you will find a revised poll. This one has some new names on it. But one name is conspicuously absent: you won't find Condoleezza Rice on it, because we already know how much support she has. I want to see where you all turn when Condi isn't there. So please, vote again. If your first choice was Condi, please choose another. Only choose "OTHER" if your first choice is neither Condi, nor anyone else on the ballot. I'll go ahead and keep everyone else from the previous poll for your consideration.
This new poll will stay open through the end of September. Vote once per day. And please come back and vote each and every day.