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Sometimes Second Isn’t the First Loser

I was asked by one of my readers (and a gentleman whom I had the privelege of serendipitously meeting this week) about the Republican State Convention voting system, and how I feel it will play out. The exact questions were: “So have you thought about the mechanics of the voting? Would there be a strategy to go with one canidate over another?”

And my thoughts are summed up in the title of this post. This is one place where second could actually lead to being first. Let me explain.

Start by Looking at the Polls
There are several recent polls. I will focus on those from the two big news papers in Utah, but I could use several others. Here are the graphics for each poll:

From the Deseret News.

From the Salt Lake Tribune

It would be an interesting discussion (at least for me) to discuss the disparity between these polls, and one that Bennett comments on where he comes in first. But I won’t bore you with statistical analysis in this post.

However, because I believe that Dan Jones is politically biased, and that his polls have a tendency to reflect his political slant, I will use the Salt Lake Tribune/Mason-Dixon Poll for analysis. Besides that, I think it better reflects my own opinion on what is going on out there.

What to Focus On
When people talk about the polls, the first number that many people focus on is the 37% in favor of Mike Lee. And while that is an interesting number I believe as does Bob Lonsberry, that it is interesting for a different reason than the Lee campaign would have you think. This shows that Lee hasn’t managed to woo the delegates, like Chaffetz did. However, in Lee’s favor he has to compete with a lot better competitors than Chaffetz did two years ago. But I am getting off topic.

The number that we should be focused on. At least the number that most of the candidates are focused on is the 15% who are not sure. First of all there is a certain percentage of that 15% who are sure, but they have refused to give an answer. I would guess that 5% of the total polled are that way. And the that 10% of the total polled are actually not sure. If I am wrong, I would say that more have actually made a decision than have not.

I have friends in all three of the major non-Bennett campaigns. I would guess from what I know, that those who support Lee are very willing to share their support for Lee, and would gladly answer this question of a pollster. However, those in the Eagar and Bridgewater camp, are more likely to withhold their commitment. While the reasons may vary as to the motivations, I think that they would be primarily motivated by the fact that they want to keep things interesting. They are probably a little like me and want to keep the main stream media in the dark for as long as they can.

With that in mind, let’s split the “not sure” votes like this (6% for Eagar, 6% for Bridgewater, and 3% for Lee), that changes the poll numbers to Lee at 40%, Bridgewater at 26%, and Eagar at 17%, with Bennet maintaining his 16%.

The Importance of Being Second
Now lets look at how the voting process will play out. To be completely honest, while I am familiar with the process, I don’t know what the exact rules are. But I am going to play out the scenario that would make it the most interesting.

The first vote would result is something vary similar to one of the two polls shown above. Then those who didn’t garner enough votes would be eliminated. In the past, this has resulted in the top three. If that’s the case, then Bennett may or may not be eliminated. However, either way, you would have either Eagar’s voters making their second choice or Bennett’s making their second choice.

This is where being second will help a candidate. This is where I can’t really comment any more. However, according to the Salt Lake Tribune Poll article, “Based on the delegates’ second choices, . . . Lee likely would prevail in a head-to-head convention contest against Bridgewater — 44 percent to 30 percent.”

However, this doesn’t take into account my belief that many of the undecided vote is actually decided in favor of Bridgewater and Eagar. While when it comes to seconds more are undecided than not. I think that the final outcome will be closer than is reflected here. I still think that it will result in a Bridgewater vs. Lee primary, but I think that the vote will be split closer to 50-50 (probably favoring Lee). And I do believe that Bennett and Eagar will both be out fairly early.

Concluding Thoughts
This is what makes politics so exciting. For me this is like watching the Utah Jazz in the play-offs (they are in the play-offs, right? At least that’s what I have been hearing around the water cooler at work). While many have made their predictions, no one really knows for sure.

That blasted 15% of “not sure” delegates are trying to throw us off, and it’s working. Thanks guys, I honestly think you are great. You are making it fun.

I will be at the State Convention. I won’t be a delegate, but I hope to watch the fun play out. I am also looking at possibly live blogging the event. But that depends on several things, so check in, but don’t be disappointed if I don’t show up.

Let’s be honest in the below poll. Don’t vote for the same person you voted for in the above poll. Let’s have some integrity in this race.

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11 comments to Sometimes Second Isn’t the First Loser

  • Okay, now. let’s be honest here. I can’t remove the first vote from the second vote. Already, we have 4 first votes for Mike Lee, and 1 second vote for Mike Lee. Be honest in your second choice, or I will remove that poll.

  • arc

    There are 4 candidates that seem to have a chance of winning the GOP nominee for US Senate. Mike Lee, Cherilyn Eagar, Tim Bridgewater and Bob Bennett.

    As the pollsters learned 2 years ago when Jason Chaffetz won, trying to guess what will happen at convention is pretty tough.

    We do have two county delegate polls taken at Weber and Utah GOP County Conventions. Both had Cherilyn Eagar taking 2nd place over Bob Bennett and Tim Bridgewater. These two counties represent over 27% of the state delegates.
    [A recent 3rd county straw poll, with 1/2 of 1 percent of the state delegates, Bennett did edge out Eagar)

    With a 3 round ballot system, any of those that make it through the 1st round could win, even if they don’t get 1st place for round 1.

    I believe that Cherilyn Eagar is the only one running who has supported and been active in fighting for conservative values for the last 30 years at the local, state, national and international level.

  • The numbers guy

    Travis, I respectively disagree with one part of your analysis that, “Lee hasn’t managed to woo the delegates, like Chaffetz did.”

    Lee is at 37% with 15% not sure. If Lee takes 37% of the undecideds at the convention (5.55%), on the first ballot he would have 42.55%. Two years ago, Jason Chaffetz took 43.4% on the first ballot at convention. So theoretically, after distributing the undecideds proportionaly, Lee is less than a point behind Chaffetz first ballot performance. And since the Tribune poll has a 4.4% margin of error, I conclude that Lee has wooed delegates as well as Chaffetz did.

    I’m ignoring the Dan Jones poll for the same reasons you do.

    • I can respect your interpretations of the numbers. I can’t say I remember how well Chaffetz was or was not doing in the polls. But I think you are too focused on just the numbers. There is the uncountable aspect of sentiment in this race. The anti-Cannon feeling wasn’t as active as the anti-Bennett feeling is now.

      So, considering the environment that Lee is running in, he should be doing better. However, I do have to say that Lee has more viable competition than Chaffetz had.

      One other thing to note is that there is an argument that Chaffetz turned a lot of voter during the convention. His speech was the talk of the convention, and if there were any fence sitters, most of them chose sides after Chaffetz’ speech. After having heard Lee speak, I don’t think that he can do that. But I can’t wait to see.

      Also, it’s nice to see that someone agrees with me and Dan Jones (at least someone who is willing to admit it).

  • Travis, I appreciate your write-up. I am an open supporter of Tim Bridgewater and um, it’s been interesting. I think a primary is very likely and I think it will be Lee and Bridgewater. One more week……….

    • I have to admit I was a little surprised to see you throw your support behind Bridgewater. Especially with your opening remarks on your post about it. I have only heard Lee use the term “release with a vote of thanks” when referring to Bennett, so I thought that I had misinterpreted some of your clues about who you were supporting. But by the end of your article, I knew that I had read your clues correctly.

  • AL

    I am for Lee, but would really like to avoid a primary so that we have a better shot at beating Matheson in the congressional race. I think that it will be down to ML/TW/RB after the first vote, but CE may sneak in and beat out RB. After the 2nd vote, it will almost certainly be down to ML/TW, since I do not believe the RB or CE has the support to get beyond 20% against ML/TW. I will vote for whoever is leading after the 2nd vote in order to avoid a primary. I hope that will be ML, but I will vote for TW if he is leading.

  • arc

    I will be voting for the best each round and have no interest in voting for someone not the best to avoid a primary.

  • AL

    So, since you say you will be voting for the best, what happens if CE is eliminated in the 1st round, and ML/TW/RB are left?
    What will you do if CE makes it through the 1st round, but loses in the 2nd, and ML/TW are left?

  • Cynthia

    I will do the opposite of Al. In order to PROTECT the caucus system, if it comes down to it, I will vote to FORCE a primary. It is not right to have 2,100 voters choose our next Senator.

    That said, I doubt anyone will get 60%. We’ve also seen a turning of the tide since the last polls were taken and published. Bennett seems to be getting weaker while Bridgewater and Eagar are getting stronger.

    There was a recent online poll that Cherilyn Eagar won. Now, while I think she has more support than people want to give her credit for, she doesn’t have enough to win an online poll. The interesting thing about that poll WASN’T that she won (clearly, they had their people on it) but rather the results of the ‘who would you absolutely NOT vote for’ category. In that category Bennett garnered 35% of the vote but Lee had 37%. That MAY give an indication of what directions Eagar voters would go on a second choice ballot.

    It is doubtful that most Bennett supporters would back Lee after the whole Afghanistan thing. Eagar voters don’t seem to care much for him either. Bridgewater may well be the beneficiary. Then again, anything can happen. Leavitt seemed a lot stronger going into the convention than he turned out to be once voting started. Also, Eagar has the most favorable speaking position in the order and THAT can make a big difference.

    The final factor is that a fair number of ‘decideds’ are switching horses too. I know we’ve picked up a lot who were formerly supporting a different candidate and I’d assume the same thing will happen the opposite direction (but hopefully in smaller quantities!)

  • AL

    Cynthia – So, you will vote against your candidate if they are close to 60%?

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