Remember back when the Republican National Committee felt that the 2012 primary season was a terrible mess of too many candidates and too many debates, all of which badly spiraled out of control and ended up ruining Mitt Romney's chances of winning the White House? That was an actual thing the RNC got bugged out about, and that they've gone to great lengths to avoid repeating in 2016.
But today, they've unleashed an online presidential straw poll on the world, and boy howdy, it's like they haven't learned a thing.
As the Weekly Standard reported this morning, there are 36 names on their straw poll. Thirty-six! It's like they swung a stick backstage at CPAC and included everyone who got whacked. It would actually be easier for me to tell you who is not on the list than it would for me to list all the people they've included. Basically, not making the cut are 1) Michele Bachmann, 2) John McCain and 3) Democrats.
The people who have acknowledged that they are running for president, or who are running and just haven't made it official because of various campaign finance reasons, have all made the list. That would be eight names (Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker), which is a pretty good size for a straw poll. You'd think that it might be useful for the RNC to know where their voters' early sympathies realistically lie, right?
But wait! There are a bunch of people currently huddled near the sidelines of the GOP nominating contest who could join this mix in the next few months or so. That would take us to 14 names with six plausible additions (Chris Christie, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum). And there was a time when New York Rep. Peter King insisted he was going to jump in, so we'll include him. And because I'm feeling really plucky today, we'll throw George Pataki on the pile as well. That's 16 people. Surely this is enough?
No, not by a long shot. Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich, the living embodiments of the flashes-in-the-pan that the RNC wanted to avoid gaining attention this time out, are on the straw poll. Sarah Palin, who would lose badly, is on the straw poll. Ron Paul is on the straw poll. I mean, what if you think Rand Paul is just "aiiight"? What if you want someone older, who's published more controversial newsletters? The RNC has got you covered, for some reason.
Also on the straw poll:
- Mitt Romney: a guy who's already declined to run.
- John Thune: a guy who didn't run in 2012 because his wife, smartly, didn't want to be ridiculed in sexist fashion by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann.
- Tim Pawlenty: a guy whose most memorable moment as a presidential candidate was that time he quit being a presidential candidate.
- Donald Trump: a sack of wet shoes left outside the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
There is also a guy named "Mark Everson" on this list, of whom the Weekly Standard's Michael Warren says, "Who's Mark Everson, you ask? Beats me." (He is a "former IRS commissioner." Come on, Michael, it's right there beneath his name.)
As Warren goes on to point out, the makers of this online poll didn't want to alienate any participant, and so they've given everyone the option to write in a candidate. So, here's hoping that the winner of this year's prestigious RNC Straw Poll is "Weedlord Bonerhitler."
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