A straw poll, like those reported in the media, is a precursor to caucuses and is used to influence delegates in caucuses. The straw poll’s utility is also to provide information to large groups concerning issues, though it is ineffective toward primaries or any other vote. It is a kind of test by the media to determine which delegate appears favored by a particular area or state. Some straw polls cost money to participate in, but attract a great number of people. They are privately run, meaning that they are not publicly overseen or verifiable. The Republican Party is holding straw polls to determine a possible outcome in the caucus and primary voting polls, though it is not always very telling. Caucuses are political party votes precursor to the actually primary and applies to Congressional representatives as well as presidential candidates. Caucuses were developed by the Democratic party, but also serve as helpful to the Republican party. Both votes are used to predict how voters might elect delegates or presidential candidates.

The results of Republican straw polls have not accurately determined a forerunner for their nomination for presidential candidate to run against current Democratic President Barack Obama. So far, the consensus of the straw polls did not clearly support a single candidate regularly over others. It seems four different candidates have won four separate straw polls, though candidate Ron Paul has won two. Michele Bachmann won one, Herman Cain won another, Mitt Romney won another, the others won by Ron Paul. What the varying results provide media outlets with is an uncertain projection of which Republican candidate has a majority vote over others.

Even caucuses can be a poor polling on which candidate gets the majority vote. The true telling vote is the primary. However, media’s fancy of “exit polls” in an attempt to predict how voters are voting are also used. The prediction of results of any polling is inaccurate at best, serving as a kind of “hype” until numbers actually are verified and publicly overseen start being reported. Wholly, the straw poll and “exit polls” serve to stave curiosity and news outlets’ hunger for the first story and the best story. The actual results are not known for any certainty until the primary is engaged.

The media uses straw poll projections to report who might be the favored candidate for Republican nomination. Their accuracy is often questionable, but they have been productive in the past with other presidential elections. What these straw polls have produced is a picture of great difference within the Republican party as to which candidate might be best for which area or state. It seems, at least, that states and Republicans have a varying view on who is best. California, long a state of liberal attitudes, voted in the straw poll for Ron Paul while the conservative nature of Iowa and its straw poll elected Tea Party and conservative favorite Michele Bachmann.

There have been other straw polls since I have written this post, but their usefulness may be in question to the skeptical eye. As they are not publicly overseen or verifiable, some charge fees to attend, and they seem to poll the fickleness of voters in numbers usually only in the thousands. Such small numbers cannot possibly yield the results of millions in the poles, as the small fraction of voters taking part in the straw poll cannot possibly reflect the majority vote. In a skeptical eye, a straw poll is a means for a flashy headline or a point to report scrolling across the bottom of a television screen. If one were to predict the outcome of a primary election, one could obtain the same results using a “psychic reader”, “Ouija Board”, or even by blindfolding a child and asking him or her to pin the Republican nomination on the hopeful. The two thousand plus people attending the Iowa straw poll cannot possibly represent the body of Republican voters in that state. It borders on complete nonsense, while masquerading as factual when it all but so. Straw polls are just that, straw men standing as best they can as real men when in fact they are inert and inanimate.

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