Do you remember me telling you in September that straw polls don’t matter? Many of you insisted in emails to me (and in some comments) that straw polls mean a lot. Let’s revisit that discussion.
In mid-August, Michele Bachmann won the Iowa straw poll with 28 percent of the vote. Here’s the lead of a Fox News story reporting her “important” win: “Rep. Michele Bachmann won the Iowa Straw Poll Saturday, affirming her status as a top-tier candidate in the Republican race to challenge President Obama in 2012.”
That was always sheer fantasy. What happened Tuesday in Iowa is reality.
Bachmann finished the actual caucuses — you know, the vote that matters — with roughly 5 percent of the vote. Her 28 percent showing in a straw poll was shown to be irrelevant.
And what of the winners in Iowa on Tuesday. As I write this, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are still neck and neck for a photo finish, but they’re the clear winners. (Ron Paul was in third place, a respectable finish, but far behind his 27 percent in the straw poll — and far away from the predictions of winning coming from his supporters lately.) The two Iowa winners were also-rans in the August straw poll.
The winner of the straw polls is a flop in the real voting and the losers in the straw poll are on top when it counts. So what does this tell us? Once again, straw polls don’t matter. They are purely a way to try to generate some publicity early in a race. Straw polls mean nothing. They indicate nothing of substance about who’s going to win.
Many of my Ron Paul-loving friends have been absolutely convinced that his strong showing in straw polls and even bogus “online polls” was an indication that he had huge support that the mainstream polls weren’t showing. I’m sorry, folks, but the numbers don’t lie. Reality is ugly in politics, but deluding yourself into believing that political reality is something other than it is will do nothing but depress you when that ugly reality gets here.
For what it’s worth, Bachmann’s campaign manager says she’s still in the campaign “full steam ahead,” but what else would you expect him to say at this point?