Well why not? It gives us something to do while we wait on the next lunatic to open fire in a school, or mall. Besides, those big dollar contributors need to know who to start thinking about as a possible winner and who to stay away from. After all we wouldn't want a repeat of 2012 when Sheldon Adelson bet the house's money on a 12th century leper named, Newt Gingrich.
The latest poll was conducted by The Washington Post and ABC and the numbers show us a couple of interesting things and some so obvious you have to wonder why the question was even asked.
In the latter category we find that among democrats Hillary Rodham Clinton is the preferred nominee by 73% of those polled. Her closest possible opponent is Joe Biden with a pitiful 12%. Elizabeth Warren came in at 8%, although she insists she won't run. Looking at the numbers who can blame her? Even at this early juncture the best strategy on the left side of the road would be to start jockeying for the second spot on the ticket. Indeed, barring some unforeseen catastrophe, the only reason the democrats need a convention in 2016 is to get some free network air time.
On the right end things are a bit murkier. Leading the field right now is Paul Ryan, congressman from Wisconsin, failed vice presidential candidate, and the darling of people who describe themselves as white, protestant, and evangelical. He polled at 20% in a crowded field. Interestingly enough, besides uber anglos, he also scored biggest with less conservative members of the party and younger voters. Admittedly the real race starts next year, but the early betting was, Rand Paul would do best with the twenty something crowd.
Speaking of the junior senator from Kentucky, at least in this survey, he didn't fare well. Paul was favored by 11% and is mired in 5th place in a 6 man pack. The only person who trails him at this point is Marco Rubio who polled 10% and is as dead as any duck can get.
The good news for Paul, if one can call it that, is Ted Cruz, late of Alberta, was the first choice of only 12%, despite being preferred by 28% of the tea party wing. Once adrift from that dizzying realm however, the Texas senator pulled in only 4% of those asked.
Actually the second place name was a bit of a surprise, although it probably shouldn't be. Running only 2 points behind Ryan is former Florida governor, Jeb Bush. When you think about it this bunch isn't overwhelming and Bush has the royal purple pedigree. On one hand he might be able tone down the fire and brimstone without alienating the far right. On the other, is the American public ready for a third Bush dynasty? Not to mention, someone around here is bound to remember both his old man and brother screwed the economy beyond belief during their tenures, so why should we trust the latest reboot of the Bush family.
Chris Christie is stuck in the middle of the maddening crowd with 13%, proving he might have gone, as Cornelius Ryan wrote, a bridge too far. It is no surprise his weakest showing was among the tea party howlers, but still, he did 2 points better with them than Cruz did in the real world.
The most interesting message which can be read into all of this is the media is so focused on Christie as the republican candidate they appear to have ignored Ryan and Bush altogether. The poll included the now seemingly mandatory hypothetical match up between the NJ governor and Mrs. Clinton, which she won by 12 points. But no one asked a similar question when it came to Clinton vs. Ryan, or Clinton vs. Bush and both of them, at least at the moment, have what, in some quarters, could be called substantial leads over him among republicans.
Of course any poll this far out is rather like picking a fantasy baseball team before the season starts. There is no telling who will have a great year, go into a dreadful slump, or blow out a knee in April and be done before he ever really gets started.
What we do know is the latest numbers indicate the tea party act is starting to wear thin. Their influence definitely seems to be ebbing. Hopefully, we'll soon remember them as just another genetic anomaly--one which can't reproduce--a mutant of evolution gone so terribly wrong it was condemned to the trash heap of species too gruesomely weird to survive.
The next stop is Sochi and every Islamic terrorist who can build a bomb and buy a ticket on a Russian bus.
Hey--be there, or be square.