GOP budget warrior Rep. Paul Ryan leads the 2012 GOP field among grass-roots conservatives, according to a new online survey that has drawn over 4 million responses.
The MyTeaParty.org poll also shows Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann is gaining fast, and running particularly strong in Iowa.
Libertarian-leaning favorite Ron Paul and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, conversely, whose droves of supporters have influenced the outcome of previous straw polls and online surveys, drew surprisingly little grass-roots support in the poll.
Ryan Hecker, founder of the Contract from America and a Houston Tea Party Society leader, blasts as “absolutely absurd" several polls that suggest movement conservatives favor establishment Republican candidates in 2012.
His poll, he tells Newsmax, prevents "the kind of gaming I’ve seen every other straw poll and online poll. It prevents campaigns from sending all of their supporters to the site in droves to just click one name over and over and over again."
Unlike other surveys, the MyTeaParty.org poll uses a Condorcet "run-off" election method, in which a computer randomly generates a run-off race between two of the 32 potential candidates listed. The respondent chooses which of the two candidates he or she prefers, and the computer then generates a new potential match-up.
Based on that methodology, Rep. Paul Ryan is the preferred choice in 77 percent of the match-ups. Following him in the top 10 are:
2. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
– 76 percent
3. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann
– 73 percent
4. South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint
– 71 percent
5. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker
– 70 percent
6. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul
– 68 percent
7. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin
– 67 percent
8. Florida Rep. Allen West
– 66 percent
9. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty
– 66 percent
10.Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal
– 64 percent
Hecker reports that Bachmann has been rising sharply in the poll. And when only responses from Iowa voters are included, Bachmann is the No. 1 choice with 76 percent, followed by Ryan (75 percent), Pawlenty (72 percent), Christie (70 percent), Palin (67 percent), Walker (67 percent), former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (67 percent), and Rand Paul (66 percent).
Hecker notes many of the leaders in the MyTeaParty.org survey are not expected to run for president.
"The fact that Tea Party activists are supporting candidates who probably aren’t running shows a lack of enthusiasm for those who are— not just on ideology, but on charisma as well," says Hecker, whose Contract From America document was a major influence on the platforms of the scores of new conservative members of Congress who voters sent to Washington in November.
Hecker says the fact that Ryan, rather than one of the higher profile candidates such as Palin, reality TV impresario Donald Trump, or former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee would be the favorite candidate of the grassroots reflects how carefully they are following the ongoing debate in Washington over the budget deficit.
“It shows me that tea party activists are watching and listening, probably more than the average American,” says Hecker. “When they look at Paul Ryan they attach to him the Roadmap for America, which was a very bold set of policies that he intellectually came up with and drove.
“So when tea party activists look at him, they see somebody who is willing to take risks for what he believes in, somebody who is very smart, somebody with the experience to lead this country,” he adds.
Ryan estimates that close to 100,000 activists have participated in the poll so far. His goal is to garner 10 million responses prior to the GOP primary.
The complete online poll results are available at MyTeaParty.org.
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