Having recently praised the GOP Bloggers/Matt Margolis online poll and more recently criticized the intense-if-undersized group of Ron Paul supporters — proving well enough that activists can imitate astroturfers, even if they’re more legitimate manipulators — an update is warranted.
So while it’s nothing like guessing Time’s Person of the Year, my expectation has born out that, upon Ron Paul’s first inclusion in the GOP Bloggers Straw Poll, this would count as another online victory for the Ronbots:
Let us not take that poll result seriously. Rather, let us find out a bit about the people who produced that result.
Don’t forget, the GOP Bloggers poll includes a few useful crosstabs, and we horse-race journo junkies thrive on crosstabs. Most importantly, each poll participant is asked first to rate their favored candidate and then to record who else from the field would be acceptable nominees if their man fell short. Neither major party is about to go for Instant Runoff Voting, but the same concept shapes the invisible primary, and this poll gives insight into that thought process.
So let’s compare the Ron Paul Machine against the online proponents of Mitt Romney and John McCain, the two candidates racing to catch up with Giuliani, a feat Paul’s supporters contend is not an impossibility for their elderly Texas goldbug with an M.D. We will count supporters of Giuliani, F. Thompson and Gingrich as well, just because.
First up, acceptablity ratings for supporters of the candidate whose alleged “bots” are most often compared to Paul’s:
Romney’s supporters find Paul most unacceptable — putting them firmly in the mainstream camp — and however unenthusiastically, could accept F. Thompson and to a lesser degree, Huckabee (!) and Hunter (!!). With Giuliani and Gingrich it’s nearly even.
McCain supporters find Giuliani and F. Thompson acceptable. Paul is not the least-favored candidate; Tancredo and Gilmore are. Tancredo makes sense on the level of issues — they are surely on opposite sides of the current immigration debate. As for Gilmore, well, perhaps of those tagged “Rudy McRomney,” it’s the “Mc” fans who may have taken the greatest offense.
And here is Paul’s ostensible nemesis, the guy whose base yours all belongs to, whose moderate (and even libertarian) backers are probably in ur base killing your doodz right this very minute:
Giuliani supporters find the most candidates acceptable*, taking extreme exceptions only to Paul, T. Thompson and comparatively so to McCain, while ranking F. Thompson and Romney as highly acceptable. That Giuliani supporters are rating Paul lowest is rather dog-bites-man, but worth pointing out.
*Among delcared candidates, that is. Thompson supporters, so far, actually rate the most candidates acceptable: six vs. five. Only Paul and McCain earn their sincere disregard; T. Thompson, Gilmore and Brownback, as usual, can take a hike.
Now, let’s give Gingrich his due, because otherwise it would be Duncan Hunter, and even though Hunter is declared where Gingrich is not, Gingrich increasingly says he will announce (which would prove this prediction wrong) — and ultimately, Gingrich’s name ID with GOP primary voters would turn Romney green (let alone Duncan Hunter):
Gingrich supporters neatly line up with F. Thompson backers, both showing telltale signs of the “almost anyone else will do” sentiment, and approving of precisely the same candidates. Sounds to me like their supporters’ combined votes are a good representation of engaged but uncommitted online GOP Internet users.
Now, without the Beltway media and MSM churning, I wouldn’t have even included McCain: his fans number less than 100 (at the time of publication) out of nearly 11K recorded. While Paul, F. Thompson and Romney have appear to have formidable online bases, and Giuliani and Gingrich have their fans, the rest received too few votes to count in this post. Apologies again to Hunter and to Huckabee fans, who at least were not beaten by “(none).”
Still, the most interesting finding of all (besides FDT’s across-the-board acceptability) is this:
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Ron Paul supporters like nobody less than Giuliani — for whom most observers called that debate based on his response to Paul’s “blowback” comments, even as the Ronbots contended that the very same exchange proved Ron Paul the obvious winner.
Unlike supporters of the realistic (and popular, arguably faddish and maybe unrealistic) candidates, Ron Paul supporters apparently would not vote for any other GOP candidate in the Republican primary — though intriguingly, a minority would consider Tancredo.
I submit this as fair evidence that Ron Paul’s online base of support is not drawn from actual Republican party primary voters. Activists for every other candidate have their fallbacks, nemeses and frenemies, but no other group is so far outside the mainstream as the activists for Ron Paul.
Maybe Ron Paul is the GOP vanguard. More likely, his support measures something besides the current Republican mood.
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