An online, semi-scientific poll of more than 60,000 grassroots conservative activists shows that the GOP base is strongly in favor of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), and Dr. Ben Carson running for president in 2016. And to the surprise of no one, Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) finished nowhere near the top of the list.
I am surprised, however, that grassroots Righties are more in favor of Jon Huntsman Jr. running for president than Gov. Chris Christie. Come on. No doubt Christie’s reputation is badly damaged -- perhaps irreparably -- but Jon Huntsman is a veritable RINO in ways Christie is most assuredly not. My guess is that Christie’s self-serving theatrics in 2012 coupled with his (at times) outspoken hostility towards fellow Republicans have made him a persona non grata in most Tea Party circles. Put differently, it doesn’t matter if he would be a more effective president -- or even more electable -- than some of these other candidates. Most grassroots activists simply do not want him to be the 2016 Republican presidential nominee. Period.
And this is an important point. After all, the tens of thousands of respondents surveyed are not the type of activists who merely show up on Election Day and hope for the best. They are an absolutely clutch GOP constituency that cannot be ignored:
“There’s a resounding message in these poll results for the Washington establishment. This is not a survey of casual Republicans or sometimes voters. These are activists who pound the pavement, make the phone calls, and cast their votes in every election every year,” said Todd Cefaratti, founder of TheTeaParty.net.
So if Republicans nominate Gov. Christie as their presidential candidate in 2016, how many of these enthusiastic grassroots activists will merely sigh a collective “meh” and refuse to volunteer their time and/or money to help get him elected?
I have no idea, but it’s at least something to think about.