US News and World Report has an interesting poll going. It appears (from the date of the article) to have been up since February 24, 2011—which is a bit odd in itself. Usually polls are closed in a reasonable amount of time. The second interesting thing about it is that although the article mentions ‘unlikely nominee’ Ron Paul as winning CPAC’s straw poll recently (recently when the article was posted), it fails to offer him as a choice in their own poll. And the third, and most, interesting thing is the result.
There are a few things that one can extrapolate from the results, as they stand now. One is, most obviously, the rejection of all named candidates. Sarah Palin has just less than 10%, and the closest behind her is Mitt Romney with 6%. Collectively, all listed options have less than 30%, not even close to a majority. In all fairness, the second thing we can reasonably assume is that a large number of ‘other’ voters are Ron Paul supporters. Paul’s supporters are passionate, and love online polls. It is possible some of the ‘other’ votes belong to Gary Johnson, or Rick Perry, or some other person. But I rather doubt it would be any significant number.
Regardless, I do not know that I have ever seen a political poll with this dramatic a result. Even if this poll is meaningless—which possibly all polls are—it fills me with a little bit of hope. The first election I participated in in any way was the 2004 Bush/Kerry presidential election, and the feeling (I believe shared by many) of having to choose the “lesser of two evils” has stuck with me. But can you imagine an election with results like this poll? Can you imagine an election in which the people said, we don’t want even the lesser of two evils anymore—we won’t take either one? Can you imagine a major election in which a write-in candidate won, or where no one won (which would be the realistic result if somehow the ‘winning’ candidate had less than 10% of the vote)? I realize that a) there is a huge difference between an election and an online poll, b) with only two choices as opposed to ten, the results change drastically, and c) the circumstances I describe are very unlikely to happen exactly as I described. Yet I still feel this poll says something important about the political pulse of America today.
If the prevailing political parties, if the media, cannot offer us choices that we accept, we can—we must—reject all those choices. And this poll shows that I am not alone in believing this.