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What The Hell Is A Straw Poll?

From Wiki:
A straw poll is an informal type of voting where the results of the poll have little or no direct results, other than to gauge opinion. Straw polls are commonly used in American political caucuses, where the primary goals are to select delegates and vote on resolutions. The results of the straw polls may influence the delegates as they participate in political conventions after the caucus.

This idiom alludes to a straw used to show in what direction the wind blows, in this case the wind of public opinion.

Well-known straw polls include the Ames Straw Poll and the Texas Straw Poll. The Ames, Iowa Republican Straw Poll is generally regarded as the most meaningful straw poll during the presidential campaign because of the large voter turnout, minor media recognition, and Iowa's tradition of being the first state to vote before the primaries.

Ok, so you already knew all that. Well here is the tally of Maryland's straw poll, from yesterday:

From: ronpaul-meetup.com On Behalf Of Jim

Sent: Tuesday, September 04, 2007 8:48 PM

To: (Magic Pop Ufos Blog Readers)

Subject: Maryland Straw Poll Results — Ron Paul wins with 28% of the vote

We counted the MD straw poll ballots this evening. The results:

Ron Paul
263 28%

Rudy Guiliani
220 24%

Fred Thompson
188 20%

Mitt Romney
89 10%

John McCain
54 6%

Mike Huckabee
35 4%

Tom Tancredo
16 2%

Sam Brownback
12 1%

Duncan Hunter
3 0%

Write ins:

Newt Gingrich
17 2%

Bob Ehrlich
3 0%

11 1%

Spoiled ballots 15 2%

Total ballots 926

Pretty impressive, apparently when you have the world's most insanely large media mogul - Murdock - not on your side (Other Opinions Here), it is a difficult trick to get anything done in this country if it is of any political importance, just ask Larry Craig.

One of the fantastic benefits of being a blogger is my heightened awareness in the world of politics. When it comes to presidential elections, 2000 was a tough pill to swallow, but marching on, I still felt cheated with the Kerry/Bush options. I have to admit, up until August 25th, the day Aaron Russo died of bladder cancer, I was still unsatisfied with the political candidates. I had no particular interest in Ron Paul, only some memories of some die-hards once asking me questions about whether I knew of him, but I did not. After some more reading (and videos), I was pretty shocked at how much steam the Ron Paul team has built up in such a short time.

Then something strange happened just yesterday. GOP Straws, the website where straw votes are tallied, has removed Paul from the voting option. Below is the explanation served up by the webmaster:

UPDATE: Some of you may be wondering about the absence of Ron Paul from this months straw poll. Let me explain. After my decision to include Ron Paul in the previous poll, I monitored (to the best of my ability) the efforts by Paul's online supporters. With the help of other bloggers, we discovered a sophisticated coordinated effort to spam the poll, obfuscate their actions, and even cheat the poll.

Shortly after the launch of the previous poll, I received an email from Jesse Benton, the communications director for Ron Paul's campaign. He was interested in getting information about what safeguards are used in the straw poll in order to protect it from spammers/cheaters. I made it clear that I was not about to share the details of what protections are place. His response was a bit less than amicable.

I found it very curious that someone from Ron Paul's campaign would have such an active interest in the GOP Straw Poll and specifically request such guarded details about it. This high suspect request, combined with the efforts of Paul's online supporters to spam/cheat the poll. Ron Paul has been removed from this months poll in order to provide usable data on the acceptability/unacceptability of the candidates in the race. As you may have noticed in the previous poll, people who voted for Ron Paul as their number one choice also only put Ron Paul as the only acceptable candidate -- a voting behavior not mimicked by supporters of other candidates. This made the data severely flawed and useless as a barometer -- even for an unscientific one.

Ron Paul has some good videos to view, and an interesting perspective to share, but I recommend watching the Aaron Russo interview with Alex Jones to get more perspective. Paul is not going to echo Russo, or try to carry his torch, but their philosophies meshed with one another.

Here is an interview by Aaron Russo given to Ron Paul. I can't really see any other candidate holding a candle to him, but will any of this translate offline? Paul's view on the banking system is unlike anything we as Americans have come to learn, primarily due to his humanistic approach in discussing the details. Sometimes when financial matters are discussed in way we all understand, the red flags shoot up, but not this time. This perspective comes with great support, organization and intent. It should be interesting to watch Hilary or the others battle the perspectives held by Paul on the Federal Reserve System.