Ron Paul Flash Mob: The Latest Polling Trick

Ron Paul Zombie Flash Mob

Straw polls are often used to gauge the strength of a candidate’s performance at a specific event. They represent a snapshot of that candidate’s popularity. But they aren’t terribly reliable as an over-all indicator of performance. For one they aren’t terribly random nor are they representative across a broad spectrum. But they are often gleefully reported as though they were a legitimate definitive reflection of the candidates popularity compared to all others.

Take Texas Representative and Presidential candidate Ron Paul, for example. Now it isn’t surprising that Paul polls high in straw polls. He has been gaining in popularity for his unusual policies since he ran for President in 2008. His message has a high degree of recognition compared to, say Tim Pawlenty or Rick Santorum who haven’t run in a national campaign before.

CPAC 2011

But here is the thing that is bothersome: Paul keeps scoring high or winning altogether in these straw polls. Higher than he ought to be ranking. He won the CPAC poll back in February. He won the poll after the New Hampshire debate last week. And he just won 40% of the vote in the Republican Leadership Conference this weekend while the national front runner, Mitt Romney, dropped to fifth place. Romney triumphed at the debate last Monday. You don’t drop to fifth place in that short of time unless you made a serious gaffe since then; which he didn’t. One might suspect after bowing out of the Iowa straw poll that Romney has decided to avoid these polls as benchmarks of progress.

The Paul campaign has reportedly offered discounted tickets, lodging, and transportation to these events for his supporters so there does appear to be some stacking of the deck involved. And it’s drawing some backlash, too. Non-Paul Republicans have taken to loudly jeering the results when they are announced at the events (poor old Thaddeus McCotter got two whole votes which I’ll assume was his wife and daughter).

Now compare those results with national polling from professional outfit Gallup in roughly the same time period for each event:


Paul doesn’t even break double digits next to Palin or Romney with the exception of the 18 to 34 year old group who not coincidentally comprise the bulk of the flash mobs at CPAC and other events. So while the straw polls indicate Paul is gaining in popularity, the national polls show him to be slipping.

Even though these straw polls are inaccurate measurements in gauging popularity, media outlets report them as though they were. This gives a false impression to the general public at large which is what the Paul campaign is counting on. But they aren’t a reflection of Paul’s national popularity; they’re a reflection of how enthusiastic Paul supporters are at organizing flash mobs.

It is unlikely that this will siphon off enough votes to actually affect the outcome of the Republican Primary. At this point, it appears to be Romney’s to lose.

About Mr. Universe

Mr. Universe is a musician/songwriter and an ex-patriot of the south. He currently lives and teaches at a University in the Pacific Northwest. He is a long distance hiker who has hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. He is also an author and woodworker. An outspoken political voice, he takes a decidedly liberal stance in politics.
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3 Responses to Ron Paul Flash Mob: The Latest Polling Trick

  1. Talk about sour grapes! Who exactly is reporting the straw polls victories “gleefully”? We all know that if Romney won, the MSM would be proclaiming him the indisputable (and quite liberal) frontrunner. The whole RP flash mob concept is absurd for many reasons, namely because other candidates, if they could sell discounted tickets to their supporters, would do so. Romney has definitely done so before. There are no buses full of Paul “zombies,” and clearly (like CPAC), if the Paul people weren’t there, there would be 30% more empty seats! It’s not as if the tickets were all bought up by the campaign, and the buzz was that there were empty seats at the RLC.

    There is a reason for the enthusiasm gap among mainstream Republicans- much like the Dems, their ideas have gotten old and tired, and their platform has been discredited, and unproductive. Paul supporters, like it or not, are just about the only group growing the GOP. We reject the Bush years, we don’t want another four years of the Bush/Obama regime. If you want to be intellectually honest, the two administrations have been quite similar. It takes a true hater to proclaim that Ron Paul, who gets no big corporate or GOP donor money, has somehow stacked the deck in his favor. We are conservatives; we want nothing from our neighbors! If you reject many of Paul’s positions, perhaps you support big government! Isn’t limiting government, and fostering a republican form thereof, what the GOP is all about?

    Finally, the Romney “victory” at the debate was quite subjective. No doubt the GOP establishment (and the corporate media) had their talking points ready before the debate even began! If the Republican party operates on principle, Paul will be the nominee. I’m not holding my breath, but if we want to protect liberty and constitutional government, his ideas must be heeded. Or else we will move further into cartel-corporatism and an authoritarian state. Even Glenn Beck, who mocked the Congressman in a similar manner as you, has now come around. If you desire the model of the founders, there is no other option.

  2. Pingback: An Open Letter to the Huffington Post Regarding Journalistic Integrity | 538 Refugees

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