On Saturday, September 24, 2011, the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) held their official straw poll, "Presidency 5" (P5), at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. First, the results of the Straw Poll:
Herman Cain - 37.11% Rick Perry - 15.43% Mitt Romney - 14.00% Rick Santorum - 10.88% Ron Paul - 10.39% Newt Gingrich - 8.43% Jon Huntsman - 2.26% Michele Bachmann - 1.51%
How relevant was this straw poll?
The road to the White House not only runs through Florida, but through the I-4 corridor, the heart of this most-important swing state and time will certainly tell if this straw poll is an actual indicator of a real victory in the Florida Primary for Herman Cain. With that in mind, however, it's important to note a few key factors that demonstrate this poll's accuracy.
In the Iowa Straw Poll, I believe residents of Iowa who are registered to vote and paid $30 are eligible (Iowa Straw Poll Rules here). In Florida, however, there were proportionate delegates from each county (based on the size of the county) with 75% of the delegates randomly selected from those that signed up with 25% chosen by each county's committee chairman (based on factors such as super-volunteer status). Each delegate that was chosen then paid $175 to participate. (Florida Straw Poll Rules here).
The point is that the Florida Straw Poll seems much more structured, proportionate and representative of the electorate than the Iowa Straw Poll. The only gap I can see is the barrier to entry of the $175 cost to participate, but I do not think this barrier favors one candidate over another.
I believe that several key points can be made about Cain's victory: 1. This is a slap in the face of the media who have been known to pick our candidate by convincing us that the race is between Perry & Romney. 2. This is a wake-up call to the GOP establishment that see Romney's experience as a politician as an asset while some believe it's "his turn" to win. A clear message has been sent that this may be the year of the "outsider". 3. This is an encouragement to all supporters of 2nd and 3rd tier candidates who say, "well, I like my candidate, but he/she has no chance of winning".
How did Cain win?
Retail politics is a term used to describe, among other things, the ol' fashioned campaign technique of shaking hands and kissing babies. Just in central Florida alone, Herman Cain joined AFP last year on their Spending Revolt Bus Tour, he joined us in Tallahassee at the AFP Day At The Capitol, he spoke at our Tea Party on April 15th in Orlando and again at the I-4 Corridor Roar a few weeks ago. In addition, Herman Cain visited the Tea Party Movement of Florida's "Suite Tea Hospitality Suite" Friday morning at 10am with an overflow crowd that spilled into the hallway (pictured here) and signed autographs at his booth after his speech at CPAC-FL. Unlike Paul, Romney, Perry, Bachmann and Huntsman, Herman Cain stuck around and spoke before the Presidency 5 crowd on Saturday with a fiery speech that had everyone on their feet.
In other words--Herman Cain earned it.
Does this mean Herman Cain will win Florida?
I don't know, but I'm definitely looking forward to what happens when the media, Romney and Perry set their sights on Cain and put pressure on him. The bottom line is this is definitely a game-changer.
What does this say about the electorate, though?
I've had some interesting exchanges with a few people that do not see Herman Cain as the right choice. One gentlemen, who I have great respect for, said "I am increasing in my belief that people want to be fooled."
I replied, "I would think that those beliefs you have should be decreasing, not increasing. People aren't at the level of understanding of what Liberty means like you do, but we're moving in the right direction. I think you'd agree that Herman Cain's victory is a slap in the media's face for trying to pick our candidate for us, and a wake-up to the establishment that it's not about being someone's turn. And to those that say, "I like him, but he can't win" -- well, they should take notice, as well, and apply that thinking to other candidates. But nevertheless, I can't imagine why you are "increasing" in those beliefs."
His response detailed a few items we should all be concerned about with Herman Cain. "Jason, I just don't see it. Support for TARP, Federal Reserve, calls for more military spending, advocates adding a consumption tax, and he is NOT an outsider. That is my point. People want to be fooled."
My final point to him was, "people do not want to be fooled. That's not a logical conclusion. My question back to you is this-- what are you going to do about it? What are you going to do to get in front of people and educate them? What approach are you going to use to make sure they know what Liberty is, what the proper role of government is, what are the real causes of our economic downturns, what the constitution says we should be doing, and how to take all of that and turn it into a smart candidate selection? What are you going to do? How are you going to approach people? THAT is the hardest question for most people to answer--the approach is KEY. Its just a plain ol' unfortunate but very real fact that we live in a society that likes to be entertained, that likes quick-fixes, has a short attention span, probably won't even read this entire comment I'm making, ...but yet, they each have the opportunity to vote and affect the rest of us. So what are you going to do? To me, it's about understanding where we are, standing next to our current position and walking everyone closer to where they need to be. To me, We The People are walking, we're moving, and we're moving in the right direction. Not fast enough for some, but we're moving -- and it's a GOOD thing.
I know what you'll say, though, "how can it be a good thing when the straw poll winner supports x, y, z, and how is that different from what we're dealing with today". And I'll tell you that it's a good thing because of what the win represents. Maybe not what it represents in reality, per x, y and z, but what it represents to those that made the vote."
IMHO, by their vote, the voters in the Florida Straw Poll have rejected the media, they have rejected the good ol' boy GOP establishment and they have sent a clear message that anyone can win.
And for those that wondered if Herman Cain could win the RPOF Presidency 5 Straw Poll? On Saturday, he firmly answered, "YES HE CAIN!".