By Baker Owens –
Secretary of State Brian Kemp, in an announcement via Twitter, announced Sunday afternoon that Dr. Ben Carson had won the inaugural “Peanut poll” at the Georgia National Fair. Kemp introduced the Peanut Poll in a bid to further stimulate interest in the SEC Primary, coming up on March 1st when a slew of Southern states vote ahead of many others in the presidential nominating contest. More than 28,000 votes were cast, making it the biggest straw poll in the country according to Kemp’s office.
The Georgia straw poll rather closely mirrored national polls. Although Carson came out clearly on top, with 8,576 peanuts in his pail, Donald Trump was a not far off second with 8,099 legumes for his lobby. The two of them alone received more votes than the rest of the GOP field combined. The ever-popular candidate known as Undecided took home third place with 1,464 ground nuts, while Carly Fiorina represented third place for those candidates that can manifest physically. Marco Rubio was the only other candidate to break 1,000, by 64 mandubis (the Brazilian name for a peanut). Perhaps out of pity, 42 Georgia National Fair attendees cast their legume lot for the former governor of Virginia, Jim Gilmore (yes, he is running for president).
There were Democrat buckets as well. Hillary Clinton netted just over 2,500 nuts. Georgia fair goers appear to have largely missed Bernie-mentum, as the Senator from Vermont came up short of 1,000 votes. He was well ahead of the ‘will-he or won’t-he’ Joe Biden candidacy that did manage to garner nearly 400 votes. Martin O’Malley came in last, but still edged out Jim Gilmore with 51 votes.
Long-time Iowa straw poll voters must be feeling a bit ‘salty’ after the results of and news surrounding the Georgia Peanut Poll. The famous, or infamous, as Ned Nederlander would say that’s more than famous, straw poll from the Hawkeye state was cancelled earlier this year as many candidates said they would decline to participate. As it turned out, that freed many of them to attend the RedState Gathering in Atlanta with little fear of repercussion in Iowa. National resentment of Iowa’s stranglehold on the presidential process finally has given way to other states also stretching their wings a little bit this as Iowa declines.
Rand Paul recently touted his win at the Mackinac Island straw poll and the “Corn Poll” at the Minnesota State Fair resulted in another Trump win, with Ben Carson second and most others far behind. Ben Carson won a Washington D.C. straw poll in July with a big margin. Even Iowa itself couldn’t resist filling the void after it cancelled its own straw poll. The state fair there quickly stepped up thanks to their Secretary of State and, as the theme is going, the outsiders came out ahead. Trump with nearly 30% of the vote and Carson with nearly 20%. No one else broke ten.
As always though, no poll really matters until the Iowa caucuses, this year on February 1. Consistent wins by Trump or Carson at all these straw polls starts to add up. Republicans wary of a Trump nomination better start thinking of what to do if the unthinkable really happens.