Monday, May 25, 2015

Ben Carson Wins The Southern Republican Leadership Conference Straw Poll (No, Really)


Late last week a convention of right-wing politicians-- the Southern Republican Leadership Conference-- was in Oklahoma City to be treated to the songs and dances of 17 Republicans running for the GOP presidential nomination, although mostly beamed down from satellite. Only Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee's wife Janet showed up in person. Oil and water might not mix but Big Oil and the Republican Party sure do.
Oklahoma is an oilman’s state: bought, run and sustained by men who’ve made huge fortunes on fossil fuels and in which fracking has been under way for so long and so deeply that scientists now believe the spate of hundreds of earthquakes there are anthropogenic. One of the events was an 87th birthday party for T. Boone Pickens, whose legendary fortune gushed from crude.

In case anyone failed to notice the theme of “Energizing America,” emblazoned on the backdrop of the stage, a glimmery silver-blue tower of the Devon Oil Company loomed a block to the northwest, and the Chesapeake Energy Arena and the Continental Oil Center flanked the venue, reminders of who really runs the Sooner state. In the hours between speeches from the big name candidates, CEOs of the local energy concerns strolled to the stage to hail the future of oil and to complain that the oil glut in America has caused thousands of layoffs and losses of billions of dollars in profits. On Thursday, Oklahoma Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb “interviewed” Larry Nichols, chairman of Devon Oil, on stage. Nichols has personally and through the company PAC doled out a million dollars to politicians and Lamb joked about knowing “who pays the bills.”

Rick Perry, until recently governor of neighboring Texas, suggested Obama didn’t understand or respect American oil and gas as a national security issue. He promised he would flood Asia with liquefied natural gas to send a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin: “If you’re going to use energy as a weapon, the United States is going to deploy the largest arsenal.” The conference offered the crowded field of candidates a chance to road-test messages that might resonate enough to win them not just the first straw poll in the Republican cycle but a place at a Fox News debate in August.

...Whether the straw poll means anything in the long run or is just a bit of fun remains to be seen. The political experts doubt non-politician Carson’s viability.

Some attendees called the surfeit of candidates a sign of Republican vibrancy, but others wondered how the party would cull the still-growing herd without a civil war over money and debates. Professional politicos worried that a Fox News Channel decision to limit debates later this year to candidates above a certain support level could banish the sole female and black candidates-- a “bad visual,” to be sure.

Steve Curry, a longtime state Republican foot soldier and national convention delegate, said the crowded field is “a blessing and a curse.” He predicted multiple candidates would still be viable through the fourth or fifth state primary: “We gotta make up our minds. I think most people have narrowed it down to two or three already. I once had to organize a debate for 12 congressional candidates for one seat, and I know it’s not easy as a consumer of information to get enough information in that situation to make a decision.”

The conference gave attendees the opportunity to do just that. College kids in blue T-shirts reading STRAW POLL roamed the halls with iPads, exhorting people to vote. The end result was Carson with 25.4 percent,  Walker at 20.5 and Cruz with 16.6. Christie and Perry came in fourth and fifth with around 5 percent each.
Meanwhile Fox News' most recent poll of likely voters measured the favorability and unfavorability of 13 politicians. The results show they're not oversampling Fox viewers. Bill and Hillary Clinton and President Obama are by far the most popular politicians in the survey.
Bill Clinton 54-40%
Barack Obama 47-51%
Hillary Clinton 45-49%
Jeb Bush 37-44%
Mike Huckabee 35-35%
Rand Paul 34-35%
Marco Rubio 31-27%
Chris Christie 28-45%
Ted Cruz 27-35%
Ben Carson 26-16%
Scott Walker 25-21%
Carly Fiorina 13-17%
John Kasich 12-14%
Ben Carson, Scott Walker, Carly Fiorina and John Kasich aren't known by enough people to make the poll very meaningful. When Fox narrowed the sample to just Republican primary voters and asked who they would like to see as the party nominee, the results show Jeb Bush and Ben Carson leading and Donald Trump beating 7 legitimate candidates:
Jeb Bush- 13%
Ben Carson- 13%
Scott Walker- 11%
Mike Huckabee- 10%
Marco Rubio- 9%
Rand Paul- 7%
Chris Christie- 6%
Ted Cruz- 6%
Donald Trump- 4%
John Kasich- 2%
Rick Perry- 2%
Rick Santorum- 2%
Carly Fiorina- 1%
Bobby Jindal- 1%
Lindsey Graham- 0%
George Pataki- 0%
Hard to read these numbers, even this early in the game, without wondering if this is leading directly to a brokered convention. There are too many candidates for debates to help voters figure out who to support. The possibility of none of these candidates ending up with a majority of convention delegates is strong, perhaps unavoidable. And any of the candidates who have a billionaire-funded Super PAC bankrolling their bid have no need to drop out of the race-- and there's still just one vice presidential slot to bargain away. It hasn't yet, but this is going to get very, very bloody.



At 8:50 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

"...Donald Trump beating 7 legitimate candidates."
I'm not sure how you figure these 7 crazies that Trump beats are legitimate candidates.
In fact, I don't see any legitimate candidates named in the whole list.

At 7:26 PM, Anonymous Bil said...

"...but this is going to get very, very bloody."

Amen. Howie we are looking forward to some very serious "eating of their own", AND some FABulous klownkar primary komedy.

"Oh Boy, THIS IS GREAT" (H/t Flounder).

At 5:26 AM, Blogger benilhalk said...

I have been making attempts to book a professional but low budget conference room for my next event. However it’s truly hard to get one according to your requirements especially if you are little low on budget. Anyways, thanks for sharing it here.

At 8:28 PM, Blogger Fat Bastardo said...

Ben Carson has a very shady past. He should be in jail and lose his medical license.

Ben Carson's Criminal Past: Click Here For Why We Need Doctor Control and Not Gun Control


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