Mainstream media outlets were calling it the beginning of the end for Donald Trump, a phrase they’ve used incessantly for five years. Conservative media was either hyperbolic in their condemnation of this “signal” for new direction in MAGA or giddy that they might finally get to embrace someone other than the guy they secretly disliked for years. Social media buzzed about it with at least two hashtags trending.
The truth about the Western Conservative Summit straw poll that showed Florida Governor Ron DeSantis beating Donald Trump by a small margin as the preferred 2024 Republican nominee is that it’s absolutely meaningless for two very important reasons. The first is apparently not so obvious despite the fact that it should be crystal clear. This particular straw poll is worse than “not scientific.” The fact that those taking it can select as many candidates from the list that they like means it’s not a poll of preference but a poll about who people do NOT want to be the nominee.
In other words, it’s an unpopularity contest. Despite Trump’s extremely high approval rating among Republicans, there are those who are either attempting to be pragmatic about a 78-year-old running for president or who let their NeverTrumper selves out in this anonymous poll. And there are more of those people than there are people who truly dislike DeSantis, though not by much.
The second reason this poll is meaningless comes down to track record. It’s been wrong literally every single year since its inception a decade ago. One would think they could get at least one or two out of ten right, but no. Their predictions and wishes have failed miserably every time.
As Colorado Politics pointed out:
Though it might have pegged the favorites of its right-leaning crowd, the polls have done a poor job of predicting eventual GOP nominees or general election winners. Restauranteur Herman Cain won the first presidential poll in 2011, followed by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in 2012 and Cruz in 2013. Neurosurgeon Ben Carson topped the poll in 2014 and 2015, while in 2016 summit attendees thought Trump should tap former House Speaker Newt Gingrich as his running mate, and former district attorney George Brauchler was the runaway favorite for Colorado governor in 2017.
The only positive from their polling is that they didn’t jump on Rick Santorum’s short-lived bandwagon at any point.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not attempting to insult the organizers or attendees of this conference. The event, from what I hear, is absolutely wonderful and true conservatives have been making it a must-go networking event. The poll doesn’t even need to change as it’s a good test of sentiment towards candidates in general. But to make major observations from it is like trying to predict next week’s weather by watching how leaves are blowing in your backyard.
I’d tell everyone to calm down, but it’s actually a bit of a needed break to see media scrambling to discuss something irrelevant rather than pushing us in the wrong direction on important issues happening now.