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Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Straw Poll

Straw polls are nonbinding ballots at party events, and are not a scientific measure of partisan sentiment. Still, they matter, reports the Globe Gazette of Mason City, Iowa:
Next month’s Iowa Republican Party straw poll in Ames is all about the bounce.
Either the upward bounce the non-binding, unscientific poll will give the candidate or candidates who outperform expectations, or the bounce out of the 2012 GOP sweepstakes that it could deliver to a presidential hopeful who shows poorly.

The straw poll is essentially a party fundraising exercise, but it has become a major political event because it takes place in the state that traditionally launches the presidential selection process every four years.

“It’s a completely meaningless event with tremendous political impact,” said Drake University political science professor Dennis Goldford. “Nobody’s elected to anything, but people derive some conclusions from this.”

Early public opinion polls have placed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Bachmann at the front of the still-developing GOP field, said Dave Peterson, an associate political science professor at Iowa State University.

The straw poll will be the first significant test of which candidates “are going to perform in putting boots on the ground.”

Peterson said early polls had New York’s Donald Trump as a contender, but he “took off like a rocket and crashed like a meteor” and the same may be true for candidates who fail to produce double-digit support at Ames.