Could the townhall.com 2016 presidential straw poll hint of a dark horse GOP nominee?

A current townhall.com 2016 GOP presidential straw poll  might hint that a dark horse candidate could be the eventual nominee.

Why? Despite 17 possible candidates widely mentioned in conservative circles, at the time of writing this article, the option of a  ‘write-in candidate’ had the highest overall percentage of votes at over 20%.

When broken down by individual states, most if not all states also preferred a ‘write- in candidate’ not on the list. However, there are a few other notable observations. Vocal and popular GOP freshmen Rand Paul and Mike Lee were not listed as a possible candidates in the straw poll and so it might not be known if they are two of the popular ‘write-in candidates’ chosen. Also, despite the political backlash on the recent immigration bill, Marco Rubio ranks second after the ‘write-in’ candidates in many states or rides high in the top 4 in most states. Paul Ryan also still gets high favorability numbers in most states.

This is not an official poll, but it is a good indication of what conservatives who intently follow politics are thinking. It would be interesting to see if townhall.com will publish who the top write in candidates are and then do another poll.

History has shown many times that the eventual party nominee was not seen as the highly probable choice 3yrs before the general election. Was Barack Obama or John McCain seen as a top choice in 2005, or even Ronald Reagan in 1977?

This trend in history reinforces why the townhall.com poll may be telling us that someone else not at the forefront of possibilities now, will be the 2016 GOP presidential nominee.

It is easy to understand why some of the most talked about 2016 contenders are current Senators such as Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio or other legislators in the House. That’s because they are normally at the forefront of conversations on national issues such as healthcare, national security, taxes the budget etc. and thus get exposure in the national media and attain heightened public images.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gets mentioned quite often too, but the records of a wider talent pool of other GOP  governors might out shadow  Mr. Christie. The GOP and the RNC should focus on the range of pro-growth and accomplished state governors as best way to revive the image of the conservative brand and win the presidency in 2016. While legislators may attract national appeal due to policies and stances they advocate, GOP governors have amassed the executive experience of actually implementing conservative policies that work, while dealing with the practical real world challenges while executing them.

In addition, they often have experiences dealing with Democrat legislatures, special interests such as unions, or get people who don’t agree with each other to come to an agreement. Most importantly, GOP governors such as Mitch Daniels, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Rick Snyder, Scott Walker, John Kasich and others have proven that the states are laboratories of innovation when it comes to successful public policies, especially conservative policies. Whether it is the pro-jobs and pro growth low tax policies, school choice to lift poor and minority students out of failing schools, right for work policies to attract job creators or reforms to curb union excess and fix budgets, GOP governors are leading the way the rest of the country could benefit. That is the real brand of the GOP, and since a presidential election is won by winning states, it will be wise to promote this as the alternative to inevitable liberal onslaught of candidates in 2016.

The road to socialism is paved with the emotion of populism. This is the path liberals intend to take America state by state. Emotion just like it is used in love to hide the truth is also blinding in politics. That is why class warfare and big government social programs are powerful but easy and successful tools used by liberals to win elections. Very often the people who are purported to benefit are blinded by the emotional appeal made by populist liberals. The only way to counter this is by using practical examples to make clear distinctions between what already works or not, that is Red states led by GOP governors versus Blue states run by Democrats. This further underscores why an accomplished GOP governor has a better shot in 2016 to becoming president. However, being accomplished alone just won’t cut it to become POTUS, it has to by accompanied by a convincing style.

The national stage is a lot different from running in a statewide election. Just ask Rick Perry. Senators and members of the House due to their exposure in the national light, name recognition and inside connections to Washington D.C have an advantage running on the national stage. As a result, they are often better prepared for the ‘national interview’ of a national campaign rather than a governor who might actually have a better resume to be chief executive as POTUS.

Based on these observations, there is one candidate in particular that combine the qualities and resume to be an excellent contender for the GOP presidential nominee if he chooses to run, and he may also be one of the ‘write-in’ candidates on the townhall.com straw poll. Mike Pence not only has pro-growth, conservative and executive credentials as the governor of Indiana, he also had experience in the legislature as a congressman. He also served on the Foreign Affairs Committee in the House, which adds foreign policy experience to his impressive resume.

Crucially, Mike Pence also has the very rare ability among many in the GOP as an articulate and passionate speaker who can communicate a positive conservative message to a wide audience. I once heard him speak at an annual Heritage Foundation President’s Club meeting and was blown away by his ability to communicate the conservative message  in a way that would have resonated with almost any  audience. He exemplified the uncanny ability to justify conservatism without the sacrifice of its principles and could help the GOP avoid another staggering loss due to the mistaken belief that only a moderate nominee can win the general election.

Townhall Magazine recently featured Mike Pence in a ‘Future of the GOP’ interview by S.E Cupp. His solution oriented leadership style rather than just dwelling on the negatives of the opposition is an advantageous distinction to many in the GOP who focus more on what they are against, rather than what they are for, and how it will work.

Hopefully townhall.com will keep doing their straw poll going into the 2016 election and may feature some of these ‘write-in’ candidates who are gaining favor in the poll. A lot could change between now and then. More so, I hope Mike Pence will keep building on his successful record, that he will get a closer look by more conservatives and that he decides to run in 2016.

Even if Mike Pence does not run, the GOP will still have an impressive group of competitive candidates to choose from in 2016. There will be strong voices for and against each candidate. The biggest challenge for the GOP in 2016 will not be the choice of  candidates, but avoiding the in-party trend of forming a circular firing squad that badly wounds the eventual nominee so bad that he/she loses the bid for the presidency.