The race for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 is already gaining a lot of interest from the media and the grassroots. Hardly a day goes by when a potential candidate isn’t making national news.
Several conservative-leaning websites have sought to capitalize on the talk of 2016 by hosting straw polls to give readers an opportunity to express their early feelings about the perspective candidates; among them is Townhall.com.
Townhall.com is a good source to get the pulse of the conservative movement. They boast several popular conservative columists, coverage of stories that the mainstream media has overlooked, and their straw poll is well known.
They’ve listed many of the usual suspects on the 2016 version of the straw poll — including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA). Even former Rep. Allen West (R-FL) is listed. But as you can see from the screenshot below, there is no mention of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).
The reason for this is most likely because of Ron Paul. His supporters dominated online straw polls in 2008 and 2012 even though he had no real shot at the Republican nomination. Townhall.com does allow users to write-in a candidate, an option that 22% of the more than 109,000 respondents have chosen.
But it seems a little disengious that Townhall.com would choose to exclude someone who figures to be competitive in 2016. Polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, which have traditionally been early primary states, show Paul leading the field.
Ultimately, online polls mean little. The only poll that really matters is the one taken on election day. But what is the harm in being inclusive, especially when it seems that Rand Paul is bridging a gap with Republicans voters?