What Does the CPAC Strawpoll Mean?

Max is telling us to hunker down for a long campaign between the top 6 finishers at CPAC:

The early polling indicates a 6-way race between Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul( or due to his age, someone similar carrying the banner for libertarians).

He suggests others may join. The big problem here is that the CPAC strawpoll is pretty well worthless as a predictor of electoral fortunes or even top candidates.

The poll makes no sense when compared to public polls of Republican voters. Where’s the disparity? You have to follow the numbers. The Internals of the poll. First thing that jumps out right away is that 52% of the people who voted in this poll are students, 59% are under the age of 25. At least 59% are male. 12% refused to say. So, if we assumed the “refuse to say” are half male and half female, that would mean this polling sample is 59% under the age of 25, 52% college students, and 65% male. Is there anywhere this demographic makes sense ?

13% of the voters were from sponsoring organizations (mostly inside the beltway folks.) While 48 states were represented in the survey, can we say that they were represented proportionally? The beltway, Northern Virginia,  and Southern Maryland will be far better represented than other states by nature of geography and having an easier time getting to where CPAC is held.

The CPAC strawpoll is a notoriously bad predictor. In 1999, it awarded the strawpoll victory to Steve Forbes. In 2005 and 2006, it went to George Allen, and this is Mitt Romney’s hat trick.

What states are most likely under-represented? The ones that will decide the nomation. Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.

The bottom line: if you want to hold a conference so that big name conservatives can easily get there, hold it in Washington. If you want to hold a conference that will tell you anything about 2012, hold a simultaneous 3-day conference in Concord, Des Moines, and Charleston.