Inside and outside of Oakland

President Rand Paul? It's wayyyyy too early to tell

  Much ado was made about a straw poll at the every-other-year Republican Leadership Conference on Mackinac Island Sept. 20-22.
  Among Republicans who gathered on the 3.8-square-mile island, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul was the presidential favorite among the 526 conference attendees.
  And Republicans reaffirmed their support for Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, who faces a potential challenge from Wes Nakagiri at next year's nominating convention.

  The poll by Gongwer News Service and Decider Strategies notes that Mitt Romney won a presidential straw poll in 2011, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder a gubernatorial straw poll in 2009, and Romney a presidential straw poll in 2007.
  Considering Snyder is the only one to eventually win the office he sought, Paul might want to take the poll results with a grain of salt.
  Not to mention the 2016 presidential election is still a long way off.
  So far off, that political scribe Chad Selweski called it "folly" to focus on polls and presidential campaigns so early.
  There's another, and bigger, reason that polls of the faithful in either party shouldn't be given much weight.
  That reason is that fewer and fewer people are straight-ticket voters — less than 50 percent in Oakland County, Mich.
  In Oakland County, for example, elections workers track the number of voters who voted a straight ticket for either party.
  In last November's election, a presidential year, 662,842 people cast ballots, a turnout of 71.4 percent.
  Of the total who voted, slight less than 22 percent voted straight-ticket Republican and slightly less than 26 percent voted straight-ticket Democrat.
  The implication if fairly clear: Independent voters or ticket splitters decide elections, not early straw polls at events held by parties wooing their faithful.
  What Paul's showing indicates is that the tea party movement and the notion of constitutional conservatism is alive and well in the Republican Party.

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