Who is really in the lead in straw polls?Submitted by pm17brad on Mon, 10/17/2011 - 13:57
I am very tired of the "flip-flopping" by the news programs regarding the straw polls. One day they determine who the frontrunners are, and the next day they are unreliable and don't mean anything (usually when Ron Paul wins) or they don't report all the results (Ron Paul is left out of the reporting).
With that in mind, I undertook a slightly tedious project. I decided to look at ALL the straw polls (for which I could find reliable results) that have taken place in 2011 through October 15 (there were 28 of them). I used a spreadsheet program to compile the results of all 28 polls together.
FIRST, I averaged the results of each candidate for ALL 28 polls. This method weights all polls equally--i.e. polls that had a couple hundred votes have the same weight as polls that had several thousand votes.
There were a smattering of other candidates who got votes that ultimately declared themselves not to be candidates (i.e. Mike Huckabee, Donald Trump, etc) that I did not include individually.
These are the straw poll average results for 28 polls:
1) Herman Cain 16.874 %
2) Ron Paul 15.475 %
3) Mitt Romney 14.424 %
4) Rick Perry 12.618 % * only counted in 15 polls
5) Michele Bachmann 6.978 %
6) Tim Pawlenty 5.905 %
7) Newt Gingrich 5.421 %
8) Rick Santorum 5.176 %
9) Sarah Palin 4.432 % **only counted in 13 polls
10) Jon Huntsman 1.597 %
11) Gary Johnson 1.024 %
In this case, the top 4 candidates are very close, and the next 5 are also very close.
THEN, I looked at the percentage of TOTAL VOTES each candidate got for all the straw polls COMBINED. This method weights the straw polls based on size--i.e. the larger polls have more weight than the smaller polls.
These are the straw poll percentages of total votes for all 28 polls:
1) Ron Paul 22.02 %
2) Herman Cain 17.07 %
3) Michele Bachmann 14.80%
4) Rick Perry 10.61 % *only counted in 15 polls
5) Mitt Romney 9.42 %
6) Rick Santorum 6.96 %
7) Tim Pawlenty 6.80 %
8) Newt Gingrich 3.73 %
9) Jon Huntsman 1.52 %
10) Sarah Palin 0.88 % **only counted in 13 polls
11) Gary Johnson 0.70 %
In this case, the top 4 are well spaced apart, and the next 5 are spread out a little more also.
Now, I want to provide the caveats--these are not scientific results. I am not a statistician. Some of the polls gave only the percentage of total votes but not the individual vote count. Some polls did not give a total vote count at all, so it figures into the first average, but could not be counted in the total votes percentage. Some polls only included the vote count for candidates that finished 5% or above. So, I have no way of knowing what the margin of error might be.
This information confirms what is probably the gut feeling of many readers at the DP--that newspapers, blogs, networks, research companies, etc. do not determine who the nominee is. The VOTERS determine that.