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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

CPAC Poll Results—My Initial Reactions



The results are in folks, from this year's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) straw poll:



Interesting Information about CPAC voters:

- 82% Favor sending an additional 20,000 troops to Iraq.

“How important is it for the next Republican nominee to focus on each of the following issues?”

- The War on terrorism, The War in Iraq, Reducing Goverment Spending, Illegal Immigration, Lowering Taxes, Reducing the size of the Federal Government, and Reforming Social Security all received over 85%.


THE CANDIDATES

From the following list – who would be your FIRST choice to be the Republican Nominee for President in 2008?

Romney 21%
Giuliani 17%
Brownback 15%
Gingrich 14%
McCain 12%
Other prospective 2008 nominees received less than 5%


SECOND choice for the Republican Nominee for President in 2008?

Gingrich – 16%
Giuliani – 16%
Romney – 9%
Brownback – 8%
McCain – 8%
Huckabee – 6%
Tancredo – 5%
Hunter – 5%
All others tested received less than 5%


Combined 1st and 2nd Choice for Republican Nominee in 2008:

Giuliani – 34%
Romney – 30%
Gingrich – 30%
Brownback – 24%
McCain – 20%
Tancredo – 9%
Huckabee – 8%
Hunter – 7%
Paul – 6%
Gilmore – 6%
**All others tested received 5% or less

From the following list – who would be your FIRST choice to be the Republican Nominee for President in 2008? (Among Individual Freedom and Smaller Government Voters)

Romney – 21%
Giuliani – 17%
Brownback – 15%
Gingrich – 14%
McCain – 12%
All others tested received 5% or less


From the following list – who would be your FIRST choice to be the Republican Nominee for President in 2008? (Among Traditional Values Voters)

Brownback – 29%
Romney – 22%
Gingrich – 13%
Giuliani – 8%
McCain – 8%
All others tested received 5% or less


From the following list – who would be your FIRST choice to be the Republican Nominee for President in 2008? (Among Secure and Guarantee Safety Voters)

Giuliani – 25%
Romney – 21%
McCain – 18%
Brownback – 11%
Gingrich – 9%
All others tested received 5% or less


MY COMMENTARY


I know that most people, and the media especially, only seem to care about who won first choice, but I think the most valuable information from the CPAC Straw Poll is how these candidates did with certain type of voters. Obviously Brownback continues to be identified as the top social conservative in the race, while Rudy Giuliani dominates the field when it comes to national security (a surprise to me- I would’ve thought that CPAC voters would realize that managing a terrorist attack is not the same as preventing it).

Also, I believe the combined first and second choice candidate’s scores are more important than the first alone because they demonstrate who the attendees are willing to support. Considering this, all true conservatives should shudder: Giuliani, a pro-death, pro-gay marriage semi-libertarian dominated this poll. I was honestly shocked by that result; I had thought he was mostly popular among the uninvolved, moderate crowd—certainly discription of the CPAC attendees. As to my opinions of the man, I think Ann Coulter said it best: "When we to the point where both presidential candidates support abortion, I think we can hang it up as a country."

If Giuliani did receive the Republican nomination, we could quite possibly revolutionize American politics. Here’s my reasoning:

Guiliani, for his abortion stance alone, would be unacceptable to small but very determined minority (I would say about a third) of Catholics, and to a large number of fundamentalist/ evangelical/ biblical Christians. Many conservative organizations and PACs, notably Focus on the Family, have already expressed deep-seated frustration with the Republican Party. Also, Giuliani, a “moderate,” would easily take votes from the current Democratic forerunner, Hillary. All this leaves the field wide open for a third-party candidate. Furthermore, this third-party candidate would actually have a chance of winning. Unlike the 1992 election were Ross Perot received 19 percent of the popular vote but no electoral votes because his base was spread throughout heavily Republican and Democratic regions, a third party conservative would actually benefit from the electoral college because Hillary and Giuliani would draw from the same regions (strongholds of liberalism and libertarianism, especially in New England and parts of the Midwest). The third party conservative would likely take much of the Bible-Belt and Heartland— at least enough to place second and make it to the House.

All this of course depends on running a passionate, articulate, energetic, and proven conservative who can also appeal to the populist and reform-minded elements of our society. I cannot posit who this candidate would be, other than to remark that it is interesting that Gingrich pledged to withhold any announcement until late September. Of course, I realize this is early in the game and completely speculative, if not tenuous, but the very possibility of such a scenario is unsettling.

When looking at these poll results, tt’s also important to keep in mind what an effort the Romney campaign invested in CPAC. They coordinated free registration and transportation for a large amount of volunteers for CPAC. The number I’m told was around 225, and Romney received just over 350 total votes. This could also explain why Romney was so consistent in the first ballot questions, and why there was such a spread between his first-choice and second-choice results, a trend not really seen in the other candidates.

In summary, I think Romney, Giuliani and Brownback are the winners coming out of CPAC. I also think that the inclusion of so many second-tier candidates demonstrates that a significant portion of the GOP are still looking for a real conservative they can rally around.

What do you think? How do the poll results affect the ’08 landscape?

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