Watching the results come in for our 2016 GOP Presidential straw poll has been very interesting (Round 2 -- the lightning round -- is open, by the way!). Here are some of the key takeaways:
Scott Walker is the favorite. Besides the fact that he won outright (by three votes), he also does not have organized support on social media as much as the other candidates. For example, we know that the poll was linked to in Facebook groups supporting Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Condoleeza Rice, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, and Ted Cruz (and it's very possible that it was posted in other groups as well). To the best of our knowledge, there are no large "Scott Walker for President" or any kind of related group on Facebook (at least none that have more than a couple dozen members). Even after we would learn that the poll had been posted in a particular group, Scott Walker's numbers would usually spike along with the candidate that the group members were supporting, a sign that he is well-liked across the GOP spectrum.
Our audience is pretty conservative -- just like we are. Out of 800+ votes cast, Jeb Bush managed to grab 13 votes, or about 1.75%. Chris Christie received just over 1%. Lindsey Graham garnered a grand total of 3 votes. On the other hand, the top five were Scott Walker, Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, Rand Paul, and Ben Carson -- conservative favorites. Together, they received about 45% of votes cast.
Aside from Walker, governors aren't necessarily the favorite... or are they? We hear a lot of talk about how we need a governor with executive experience in the White House, but after Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee is the next governor in line, taking 7th place. The rest of the governors received under 4% of the vote. So, either the "we need a governor" crowd in all on board for Walker, or maybe that really isn't such a priority after all. When you take the results as a whole, however, governors and former governors received around 35% of the votes cast. Senators and former Senators also received around 35%, and everyone else -- from doctors to filmmakers to former ambassadors -- took the remaining votes cast, roughly 30%.
Surprises abound in politics -- especially in straw polls. Kerry Bowers, an essentially unknown Presidential candidate from Nevada, took 6th place with approximately 6% of votes cast. It's a straw poll, but that's still a pretty decent showing for someone who is nearly completely unknown.
And while we are on the topic of surprises...
Write-ins were interesting. Two users voted for Mitt Romney, two for Ron Paul, two for Michael Hunt, and two for Joel Grewe. One vote for Trey Gowdy, one for Jeff Sessions, one for Jan Brewer, one for Judge Napolitano. "None of the Neo-Cons!" received a single vote (not sure who that is, interesting name for sure?). Benjamin Netanyahu also garnered one write-in. For all Elizabeth Warren's insistence that she is not running for President, someone apparently felt compelled to write her in (she never said she wouldn't run as a Republican... did she?). And then there was the person who decided to enter six names in the write-in slot: "Karl Marx, Murray Rothbard, Edmund Burke, Hannah Arendt, F.A. Hayek, Aristotle."
This is not a scientific poll. 807 votes were cast, probably by about 300 individuals -- while each user could select 5 candidates, not all of them did. We could have paid the creators of the poll to be able to access more information, such as the exact number of voters and which users voted for which candidate, but we're fiscal conservatives through and through, and the $200 price tag was just a bit more than a bit too high.
Additionally, we received several write-in votes for candidates on the list. We choose not to count these votes to ensure that nobody could vote for Bob Smith and then write-in Bob Smith as well, scoring two votes by one voter.