Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Survey says (redux)

The second LibertarianLists survey of libertarian attitudes on the 2008 presidential election has wrapped up. Posts with numbers from Steve Gordon at:

- GordonUnleashed
- Last Free Voice
- The Free Liberal

I'm not sure how much of this data we can take to the bank. It's a smaller sample, and at least two and probably three or more campaigns attempted to "slam" the poll. It went down like this:

The Kubby campaign did let its supporters know, in low-key fashion, about the results of the first survey and the existence of the second. We didn't do "action alert" type stuff ... until the last day of the survey, when I received a forward of an email sent out to supporters of Wayne Allyn Root, urging them to vote for Root in the survey.

Having seen that it was going to go down this way instead of relatively free of "hyping influence," I popped out a "go thou and do likewise" email to the Kubby newsletter list. That makes two campaigns. I'm told, but have not yet been able to confirm, that the campaign of George Phillies reacted in a similar fashion.

So, take the numbers with however many grains of salt you think that's all worth.

If the numbers are accurate, they're reasonably interesting:

- Of the Libertarian Party candidates, Wayne Root wins among all survey participants (i.e. not just LP members, but Republicans, independents and members of other parties). Since the nomination is the first big hurdle, I'm not wigging out over that. But it does look like Root, for the moment at least, continues to rate placement in the "top tier" (if a group of candidates all clustered at the sub-5% level can be called "top tier" with a straight face).

- Among self-identified LP members, the three "pack leaders" were all clustered within five votes of each other: Phillies with 20 votes, Kubby with 17, Root with 16. The whole spread between Phillies and Root is 0.8%, so I don't see that any useful information can be divined there.

- Now it starts to get interesting: The votes from self-identified definite or likely delegates to next May's 2008 Libertarian Party national convention. Phillies picked up 10.37% of this group; Root, 8.89%, Kubby 6.67%. The sample is exceedingly small, making for a higher margin of error (the percentages I just gave you come to a total of 35 votes), but nobody wants to hear that his candidate is last in delegate count.

So, why are my toes tapping? Well, I happen to know that George Phillies has done at least two direct mail pieces, and I have good reason to believe that the recipients of those mailings are mostly former (and likely future) LP convention delegates. So far as I know, Root hasn't done mailings to that target group yet, and I know to an absolute certainty that Kubby hasn't.

If Phillies really is at 10% +/- with likely delegates after hitting them twice by direct mail, and if two opponents who haven't even dipped into that spring yet are within 4% of him ... well ... he's done, folks.

- The next questions are broken out in Gordon's tables to reflect the sentiments of LP members (not necessarily convention delegates, but members), and to measure "the Paul impact."

The first question assumes that as of the LP's national convention, Ron Paul is no longer a factor (i.e. he isn't going to win the GOP nomination and he isn't seeking the LP's nomination). On that question, the big winner is "undecided" with 54.69%, followed by Kubby (11.18%), Phillies (8.78%) and Root (6.19%).

The second question assumes that Paul is still very much a competitor for the GOP presidential nomination (chances are that by May Paul will either be obviously the nominee or obviously not, so for all practical purposes this is the "Ron Paul is the GOP nominee" question). Once again, Kubby bests his LP opponents, but it's that damn 1.x% muddle again: Kubby 5.59%, Phillies 4.79%, Root 4.19%. NOTA polls between Root and Phillies, and "undecided" pulls 23.35%. Here's the winner, with 50.5%:

Would try to change the bylaws in order for Ron Paul to receive the Libertarian Party nomination or become engaged in some sort of effort to draft Ron Paul as the Libertarian presidential nominee

... which, though it be ashes in my mouth, I must admit seems to confirm the strategic wisdom of Kubby's recent decision to endorse Paul. He's (pardon the pun) the elephant in the room.

Of course as mentioned I'm not especially sold on the validity of this survey. I'm reasonably comfortable that "the Paul factor" as represented is somewhere in the range represented; and as with the last, I think that Steve tried to get as unskewed a picture as possible of the real numbers; but the "slamming contest" may have affected things on the LP side, and at least two other developments (Kubby endorsing Paul and Root slagging Paul as "soft" on "Islamo-fascism") would have played in the survey, if at all, toward its tail end.

It's the possible "slamming factor" that keeps me from finally writing Christine Smith out of the "serious candidates" circle. She polled well behind Kubby, Phillies and Root again this time, and behind Barry Hess (no campaign site that I know of, no announcement that I know of ... but he keeps turning up like a bad penny) as well. But I don't have any information that she played the "slam" game, so it's entirely possible that absent the impact of that she would have polled in the same range as the current "top three."

Thanks to Gordon and the folks at LibertarianLists for continuing to try to get real data on what's happening in the LP's 2008 nomination race. Whether ultimately successful or not, the effort is worth making.

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