Sunday, January 15, 2012

Thoughts on Saddle Up Texas Results

We're still finding event coverage, but given that Ron Paul won the text poll by a huge margin, and given that he won the in-person vote by 4 percentage points, I doubt the media will be reporting the story of the poll results, except, perhaps, as a means to pound on Perry for his poor showing.  

First, for the record, the results:

There were in-person votes of 707, and text votes of 3321.

I want to say a few words about the results.  First, Ron Paul did so well because his supporters invested time and money to participate and spread the word about the event.  They turned the event into a rally, a fun gathering, but one in which they were determined to have an impact on the results.  Anyone who supports a candidate and complains about how Ron Paul supporters push for their candidate needs to check himself and get over it.  These supporters recognized a chance to send a message about support for Ron Paul, and they took full advantage of it.  Only Newt Gingrich supporters had the vision to do the same, and guess what place Newt took in the poll?  SECOND.  RIGHT BEHIND RON PAUL.  After three years plus of opposing big government, wasteful spending and class warfare, one would think conservatives supporting an idea or a candidate would learn that they need to do more than just feel a certain way.  They MUST learn to act. They must do more than listen to speeches and watch debates and cheer from their armchairs.  They must also WORK for their cadidate of choice.  I already hear the grumbling of "Of COURSE Ron Paul won the poll."  There's no "OF COURSE" about it.  Get off your butt.  Support YOUR candidate like that, and there's no telling how far he will go.  Envision what would have happened if YOU cared enough to invest an entry fee, bring ten like-minded friends, sent e-mails to encourage others to do the same.  Quit bitching about Ron Paul and start taking notes.

So kudos to the Ron Paul team.  Well done.  I don't care what anyone says, you are learning a lot about campaigning, building momentum, and fighting for what you believe in.  For the record, I did not vote for Ron Paul in either poll, and can't be counted among the Supporter Class he has built, so don't even start with the accusations that I'm shilling for Ron Paul.

A few more things; Ron Paul supporters, numerous as they were at the event, couldn't dominate the in-person poll the way they did the text vote.  This reflects the fact that Paul has a long way to go to convince primary voters (whose votes can't be gamed like a text poll) that he should have their support.  The differences in the poll results between in-person and text polling should signal that the game isn't merely won by a battle of perception.  It must also be won on the streets, block by block, house by house, and person by person.  People discount Paul poll wins precisely because they are so easily gamed.  Serious candidates have ground game in the primary.  It will be interesting to see whether Paul has that level of support as the candidates, the Bedouin of politics, drag their caravans from state to state.

Also, Gingrich, Santorum, and Perry appear clustered in the middle.  People who discount Ron Paul automatically will say that this is now a three-way tie in Texas for the Not Romney slot.  Most interestingly, Mitt Romney finished fifth in both polls, indicating almost zero support for Romney in Texas.  I suspect that's because his team had no presence in Texas, because the voters at the poll trended towards tea party, and because perhaps Texans and conservatives wanted to tweak Iowa and New Hampshire a little.  

The event was a wonderful celebration, but the biggest loser wasn't Romney or Huntsman.  The biggest loser was the Texas GOP and the local Republican parties who did not support the event.  Harris County GOP and Fort Bend GOP both supported the event through their executive committees, and Fort Bend had a significant presence during the event, led by Chair Sharon Roberts (not so much HCRP Chair Jared Woodfill.)  But it would be difficult to find any other county Republican party who did anything to support the idea of a Texas GOP straw poll.  If anyone can find any other local party that supported the endeavor, I will publish a correction.  And eat my shorts.

Most disappointing was the lack of involvement from the state party.  The Republican Party of Texas had floated the idea of a poll well after Saddle Up planning was underway, and reported that there was not enough interest to put on the event.  That's fair.  Endeavors like this cost huge sums, involve many people, and involve a huge element of risk.

But given that the RPT didn't have to invest ANYTHING into such an event, one wonders why they were so loathe to help publicize it.  I have met Chairman Steve Munisteri, supported his election, and spoken with him at length before the planning for this event, and I am dumbfounded at the reason the party refused to send even one e-mail on behalf of the event.  I won't make wild accusations or surmises, but I personally believe he owes me an explanation.  Chairman Munisteri, if you're paying attention, you have my number.  I'm always available to take your call.  Just be aware, there are rumblings deep in the grassroots about the leadership in the RPT, and this deliberate snub has only increased it.  You will have a long way to climb before you're above ground.  Reelection is right around the corner, unless the primary dates keep getting pushed back, and Saddle Up now has a pretty extensive contact list.  I'm just saying.

It was a three-day political conference unlike anything else we've ever put on.  People had a great time; the speakers were phenomenal, the Veterans so inspiring, the musicians so fantastic, the emcees - all our favorite radio hosts in one weekend! - were so generous and gracious, the presenters were so informative, the attendees so responsive and supportive, the Minute Maid staff and contractors so professional and helpful.  We could not have asked for a better first-effort result.  As VP of the organization behind Saddle Up, I have to say I've got immense respect and inexpressible admiration for all the people who worked so hard for no personal gain, just the chance to give Texas a voice and help some Veterans' organizations with their good work.  You can still make donations to the cause at the Saddle Up website.

And to the Senate candidate who bailed without word, notice or even a "screw you" - I can not express how pissed I am.  David Dewhurst and his team owes all the attendees a huge apology, not to mention the organizers.  Again, you have my number.  Don't send a minion to talk to me, either.  I'm done with that.  I took this blow-off very personally.

Texas and the nation have not heard the last of Saddle Up Texas.  This is only the beginning.

Saddle Up!