While Democrats were gathering in Alexandria for an event that involved a straw poll (see here and here), the Republicans were making their way to the Heritage Hunt Country Club in Gainesville for the Prince William County Republican Party’s annual Lincoln-Reagan dinner. The event featured Carly Fiorina as the featured speaker, attracted a similar size crowd of about 265 people, and also featured a straw poll for the statewide races.
The big news coming out of the event is that Ed Gillespie easily won the gubernatorial straw poll despite the event being in Corey Stewart’s home county. Of the 265 people who voted, Gillespie received 165 votes or 62.3% of the vote while Corey Stewart only received 65 votes, good for 24.5%. Denver Riggleman’s 8.3% of the vote (23 votes) was good for third while Frank Wagner brought up the rear with 3% (8 votes).
As Steve Albertson pointed out over at The Bull Elephant, this says a lot about the state of Corey Stewart’s campaign because these are the people who supposedly know him the best.
Quite aside from the accuracy and reliability of the polls is the message about Corey Stewart. Those that know him best have demonstrated a preference for someone else. This phenomenon probably also explains why his fellow Board of Supervisors members have not endorsed him. One thing is certain, tonight’s results highlight a dynamic of local disdain that is unlikely to go away anytime soon, and is likely to figure largely in upcoming debates.
Steve also pointed out that Corey Stewart showed up for the pre-event reception, but then ended up leaving before the actual dinner started. This suggests he might have noticed the crowd was largely supportive of Gillespie and therefore couldn’t be bothered to actually stick around and talk with the conservative activists who were present.
As several people have pointed out, these straw polls aren’t scientific polls and shouldn’t be read as such. But you can read into the results if you know what you’re looking for and you have to wonder why Corey Stewart was unable to have a good showing in his home territory.
If nothing else, his campaign would have been wise to buy tickets for a bunch of his supporters and have them come vote so that he wouldn’t have a PR blunder on his hands. While the tactic wouldn’t be a grassroots victory, it is one that’s been used in the past to give certain candidates big wins in straw polls (I remember campaigns doing this during the Democratic gubernatorial primary back in 2009).
As it stands now, however, people are left laughing about how “Crazy Corey” couldn’t even win his home territory.