On Thursday, the Drudge Report conducted its first presidential preference poll of the 2016 campaign. The contest was open to all national candidates and not segregated by political party. With more than 1,000,000 votes cast, Donald Trump took the top spot with 36 percent of the vote. He was followed by Socialist Bernie Sanders in second, with 30 percent.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz with a distant third, with 19 percent support. No other candidate for President secured more than 5 percent support.
The Drudge poll is a self-selecting poll, open to anyone on the Internet without filters for voting registration, age, geographic region, or demographic. While there isn’t any scientific value in the poll, with respect to predicting voting outcomes, the size of the voting sample and Drudge’s position at the center of political news makes the results interesting, nonetheless.
In some ways, the fact that the poll is open to anyone with an Internet connection casts a very harsh light on the campaigns that failed to poll well.
Outside of Trump, Sanders, and Cruz, no candidate accumulated double-digit support. The fourth place finisher, Marco Rubio, garnered just 5 percent. Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton, Rick Santorum, and Martin O’Malley each received less than 1 percent support.
One wonders about campaigns that can’t organize supporters to participate in a poll that could translate to increased news coverage. ABC News once admitted that the “Drudge Report sets the tone for national political coverage.”
The Drudge Report is the leading referral site for many top news organizations. Politico reported last year that Drudge is still “dominant” in political coverage. One news organization even did a deep analysis of all of Drudge’s story links in the last year.
It would seem to be a very small thing to organize an effort by supporters to participate in the Drudge poll and lift a candidate’s standing. Perhaps it isn’t a case that campaigns didn’t want to organize their supporters to do so, but, more tellingly, they couldn’t.
Trying to figure out how many real, active supporters a campaign has is among the dark arts of politics. Successful campaigns are backed by thousands of volunteers who are constantly engaged with promoting their candidate. They flock to polls like the one conducted on Drudge.
Trump, Sanders, and Cruz clearly have real, dedicated supporters. It is perhaps no surprise that Trump would beat out the other two in the Drudge poll, as his support seems especially organic. That said, all three had a presence.
For the other candidates, however, a simple question arises from their no-show in the Drudge poll. For those campaigns, is there a there, there?