by Scott Shields, Sun Feb 12, 2006 at 12:34:08 PM EST
Need proof that public opinion polls about the 2008 race are horribly useless? Well, I'm going to give it to you anyway. In mid-December, data from a Gallup poll was released that indicated a lead for Rudy Giuliani in the race for the 2008 GOP nomination. He wound up with an impressive 30%. In fourth place was Virginia Senator George Allen, who came in with a relatively dismal 7%.
A straw poll was held at this weekend's Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, that showed some very different results. For those of you unfamiliar with CPAC, it's billed (and I'm not arguing) as "the largest gathering of conservatives nationwide," so it's essentially a who's-who of rightist America. The list of speakers and sponsors reads like Jack Abramoff's Rolodex -- Ann Coulter, Dick Cheney, Rick Santorum, Grover Norquist, Sam Brownback, Tom Tancredo, Wayne LaPierre, Oliver North, Ken Mehlman, Phyllis Schlafly, George Will, Michelle Malkin, J.D. Hayworth, John Fund, Tony Blankley, Bill Frist, John Bolton, Bob Novak, and so on and so forth. I would consider a straw poll held at this event to be far more credible than anything Gallup can glean from questioning the general public.
In a straw vote for presidential favorites in 2008, Virginia Sen. George Allen received 22 percent of the vote of conference participants. Arizona Sen. John McCain garnered 20 percent, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani 12 percent and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice 10 percent, according to results from Fabrizio, McLaughlin and Associates. [Newt] Gingrich was at 5 percent.
So what does this tell us? The candidacies of George Pataki, Mitt Romney, and Chuck Hagel are likely dead on arrival. The same could probably be said for Mike Huckabee, though I think he could very well be the sleeper of the '08 GOP race. But most of all, it tells us that conservatives who are 'in the know' are not backing the same candidates as your average Republican voter. This is something we're very familiar with as the netroots straw polls show almost always exactly the opposite results as polling of average Democrats.
It also tells us that George Allen is one to watch as 2008 draws near. This makes it incredibly important that we make ourselves very aware of his record and positions. And since he's up for re-election this year, it's also incredibly important that we go out of our way to support Democratic candidates James Webb or Harris Miller in the Virginia Senate race. Picking off Allen's seat won't be easy, but it is possible, especially in light of the fact that he doesn't seem to be doing his job, too busy running for President to actually worry about representing his constituents.