Straw Poll Results
When asked who they would vote for if the election to decide the Republican nominee for President were held today, they answered Mitt Romney. Romney had 35% of the overall vote, McCain 34% and Huckabee and Paul were tied at 12%.
In voting before Romney dropped out, Romney led McCain by a wide margin: 44% to 27%. In the voting after Romney dropped out McCain only beat Romney by 5 points: 37% to 32%.
Will they support McCain if he is the nominee?
A result that is even more troubling for McCain’s candidacy is this: only 68% of the voters at CPAC will vote for John McCain if he is the nominee. 20% said they will vote for someone else and 11% said they will not vote. Before the Huckabee supporters start to celebrate, the numbers for Huck are even worse. Only 61% would vote for Huckabee if he was the nominee, 25% would vote for someone else and 11% would not vote.
This is not a constituency McCain should do poorly with. McCain positions himself as the candidate most opposed to pork barrel spending, earmarks and budget deficits. Fiscal conservatives dominated the attendance at CPAC, not the values voters McCain has done poorly with. 59% of voters said their most important goal is to reduce the size and scope of government. This was also a group that would tend to appreciate his support for the Surge. At the CPAC conference held in March 2007, 82% favored sending an additional 20,000 troops to Iraq and only 17% opposed. Yet McCain did not do that well.
McCain clearly does not have strong support from the base of his party. The Republican party is not energized by the McCain candidacy. It has hard to see how he can attract enough democrats and independents in November to overcome his lack of support among conservatives.