Deconstructing the CPAC straw poll

At the end of the day, the CPAC poll is meaningless.  I know, it is heresy to say so among us conservatives, because we want to be relevant and have an impact on the Presidential race.  But to try to prognosticate any specific trend or outcome as a result of the straw poll is folly.  Two reasons: the age and gender of the voters.

As is usually the case, CPAC registrants were heavily skewed to college students.  64% of the voters in the CPAC straw poll were 25 years old or younger.  The under-40 block was a full 80% of the vote.  And, only 30% of the vote was female.

In normal primary elections, the older you are, the more likely you are to vote.  So there is a fundamental problem with those who think there is some kind of trend in the numbers: the vast majority of ballots at CPAC were cast by the 18-25 age group, an age group that is much less traditional in it’s views on moral issues – abortion and gay marriage.  When actual voters in primaries start to vote, it will be the grandparents of the CPACers doing the voting, and they will not look kindly on candidates who are left of center on abortion and gay marriage (like Giuliani).  Additionally, women usually make up about 53% of the vote, so the 23% under-sample of women in the CPAC straw poll will muddy the waters for trend seekers as well.

Romney deserves kudos for winning the straw poll – which is more about organization and busing students in to vote – but he shouldn’t get comfortable thinking that he has locked up the conservative base.  As for Giuliani?  Rock stars typically burn bright and fast… and then burn out.


  1. While the CPAC poll may not have much weight, Giuliani is still polling well across the board. Conservatives need to start pushing their candidate to get their names out. Gingrich needs to get off his backside and announce. His intention of waiting until September is foolish. It will be virtually over by then since many States are moving their primaries up to February.

  2. Sonoran Truth Squad says

    I disagree… I think Gingrich is smart to wait… Our desperation for a conservative alternative is only going to build, while the longer he waits, the less money he needs to spend (therefore raise) and the other candidates can’t attack him in the meantime. A late entry into the race could create a media frenzy and the conservative tidal wave could wash away the field…

    Of course, that’s if he has any intention of running…

  3. No straw poll is reflective of the entire party…and none are good measures of future performance.

    But winning one shows either voter approval or organization. A good candidate has to have both.

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