Death by Popularity

I am rather consistently amused by the attempt of all parties to discount Ron Paul from the various internet popularity contests Presidential polls. This started several months ago, when Pajamas Media yanked Ron Paul from their straw poll because his supporters were “cheating” or some such crap. The comedy has continued, with nearly every poll being fiddled with amidst charges that Ron Paul supporters are doing horribly nefarious things, like voting multiple times! The horror! Now the bafflement is in full swing amongst the mainstream media and Jesse Walker has some good points up on the whole issue.

Let’s face the facts: internet polls are literally, and virtually, meaningless. What internet polls do quite well is give the press (and bloggers) something to discuss. Beyond that disputably useful service, I’m not real sure they accomplish a damn thing except give supporter warm fuzzies. They don’t translate in any meaningful way to electoral results. If they did, Howard Dean would be President right now. But the need for content is insatiable these days, so the discussion turns to why Ron Paul keeps doing so well in the useless online polls. I mean, really, he’s a minor candidate! Roger Simon says so!

I wouldn’t ask why Ron Paul is doing so well online. (The answer, by the way, is a committed fan base among online residents.) The question I would be asking is why are the “major” candidates doing so poorly in these polls right now? The anointed first rank is not doing a good job of getting the supporters riled up if Ron Paul’s groupies can ‘skew’ the results this badly. Somebody might want to ask why, but the answers might be a tad bit unsettling. Instead, we’ll keep hearing that Ron Paul doesn’t matter and that he’s a minor candidate until the web savvy finally get with the program and vote for some candidate who has been anointed. Then we can go back to ignoring the pesky outsiders and focus on the true candidates, like John McCain. After all, he’s going to win the Republican nomination right around the 12th of Never, so he must be a serious contender.

Silly me. I thought the debates and all the activities occurring right now were to figure out which candidates were serious. I didn’t realize the press, in its infinite wisdom, could handicap the race this far out. Personally, I don’t think any of the currently declared candidates are going to get the GOP nomination. But I’ve been wrong before, so we’ll see.

Update: Apparently, Ron Paul is not only not a serious candidate, he’s not even a Republican. I'm sure all the people that voted for him under that assumption will be crushed.

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