Unlike Democrats who occasionally like to throw a wrench into "conventional wisdom" by supporting a wild card like Ralph Nader or nominating a relative unknown like Jimmy Carter (remember Jimmy Who?) or Barack Obama - Republicans tend to nominate the next guy in line to be their presidential nominee. Think Bob Dole and John McCain.
Fred Karger filing his presidential papers with the FEC (Photo courtesy Fred Karger)
This year there is no solid "next in line" - though McCain's runner up, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, is perhaps the closest to a shoe-in at the moment. So imagine Romney's surprise when gay, Jewish, relatively unknown California political consultant Fred Karger beat him by 5 points in the St. Anselm College Republican Straw Poll Thursday night in New Hampshire. There were 322 ballots cast for 16 candidates and Karger won the most with 79 votes.
Given the proximity of Massachusetts to New Hampshire, and the fact that the majority of voters in the conservative Catholic College's weeklong poll identify as conservatives - Karger's straw poll win should be a warning that at least students are listening to Karger's Republican progressive message. It helped that Karger and his team campaigned at the college the entire week and was the only candidate to address the students. Karger, now in Nevada for the Republican Jewish convention, told me by phone:
"I am shocked that I won the poll. Over 65 percent of the students are from Massachusetts so they're very familiar with Romney. I hoped to maybe come in third. This is a Benedictine school so it's really incredible. Maybe it's a little game changer? We'll see."
James Pindell, Political Director of the highly regarded WMUR - ABC TV station in Manchester wrote in his blog:
“In the end, this was a big win for Karger who has been campaigning hard in the Granite State trying to make the argument that he should be taken seriously as a candidate. This straw poll should help that.”
Results from the straw Saint Anselm straw poll are below:
SAINT ANSELM COLLEGE
PRESIDENTIAL STRAW POLL
MARCH 31st, 2011
Question 1: How would you describe yourself politically?
- Moderate: 104 Votes
- Conservative: 104 Votes
- Liberal: 31 Votes
- Very Conservative: 29 Votes
- Libertarian: 16 Votes
- Other: 11 Votes
- Very Liberal: 10 Votes
Question 2: Looking ahead to the 2012 election, what would you say is the most important issue facing the nation?
Question 4: Who are you most likely to support for the 2012 Republican Nomination for President?
- Fred Karger, 79 Votes
- Mitt Romney, 74 Votes
- Donald Trump, 26 Votes
- Tim Pawlenty, 24 Votes
- Ron Paul, 24 Votes
- Rudy Giuliani, 22 Votes
- Rick Santorum, 20 Votes
- Sarah Palin, 9 Votes
- Herman Cain, 8 Votes
- Gary Johnson, 8 Votes
- Mike Huckabee, 8 votes
- Newt Gingrich, 7 Votes
- Haley Barbour, 3 Votes
- Mitch Daniels, 2 Votes
- John Bolton, 1 Vote
- Rand Paul, 1 Vote
- Other, 6 Votes
Here's a statement from Karger about the win:
“I am elated by this early show of support from the students, faculty and staff of St. Anselm's College. We campaigned at St. A's all week, which is exactly what I have been doing since I began this effort in New Hampshire back in February 2010. My team of college coordinators and friends worked hard to win this first Granite State straw poll of this cycle. My message of inclusion in the Republican Party and reaching out to younger people is working, and I will continue to be the one candidate who works to grow the Republican Party by campaigning right on college campuses.
I was the first to declare my interest in running for President in April 2010, the first to start an exploratory committee in July 2010 and the first to file for President just one week ago at the Federal Election Commission Washington, DC. Now we are off to a great start in New Hampshire as the campaigning begins, and it is on to South Carolina and the first Republican debate to be held in Greenville on May 5th.
Thanks to all who helped make this victory possible!”
(Crossposted from LGBT POV)