Political Polls: This is Getting to be Ridiculous

Well this is just depressing: A third-party candidate for president was omitted from a presidential poll in North Carolina.

When I look at the two mainstream presidential candidates, I find that I have a hard time siding with either of them, so I am all for a third party coming in to shake up our political system and maybe work on behalf of the taxpayers instead of the political machine.

But that’s not the truly depressing part: Instead of asking a key voting state about all the candidates on the ballot (Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson is indeed on the ballot in North Carolina), the poll from Public Policy Polling took the space and time to ask the question: Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Honey Boo Boo?

Okay, for those of you who don’t have cable (that would be me), or don’t have time to tune into TLC (The Learning Channel, amusingly), Honey Boo Boo is apparently the nickname of a child pageant participant from Georgia (first seen on the channel’s "Toddlers & Tiaras" program), who has her very own show on TLC: "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo."

As I have never seen the show myself and don’t want you to have to search for it, here is what I can find on the Internet: “Star” of the show, Alana Thompson, is a seven-year-old beauty pageant contestant. Her mother regularly feeds her a mixture of Red Bull and Mountain Dew, fondly called “Go Go Juice” just before her pageants. And, even though the family resides in America, a good portion of the show is subtitled, due to the slang and thick accents of its cast.

So, let me break it down for you one more time. Instead of asking 1,084 potential North Carolina voters between October 12 and 14 about their opinion of the only third-party presidential candidate on the ballot, Public Policy Polling instead asked about their opinion of a seven-year-old reality television star from a different state.

WHAT?

I am not a political expert, so while I’m sure there is some over-arching reason for asking such a silly question, it just gives me even less heart about our political system. I’m flabbergasted that this is what it has come down to these days.

At least 50% of those responders were “not sure” (47% “unfavorable and 3% “favorable”). Oh, and the poll had Republican Mitt Romney with a small lead in the state over President Barack Obama, in case you cared.

Though, had the third party candidate been included, who knows what the results might have been?

Not a Fan of Romney or Obama? Third Party Candidates Offer Views in Debate

It’s been a while since a third party candidate has really made a splash in the presidential election. Ross Perot garnered 19% of the popular vote back in 1992, and many left-leaners fault Ralph Nader’s Green Party bid in 2000 for serving as the reason Al Gore lost the election — although the onus should probably fall on the Supreme Court for that. (Additionally, this year’s Green Party nominee, Harvard educated physician Jill Stein, was arrested for trying to get into the first presidential debate.) But frankly, my favorite third party candidate in American history would have to be former-President Theodore Roosevelt, when he ran for a second term with the progressive Bull Moose Party.

Unless Libertarian and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson gets a surprising chunk of the vote and potentially hinders Romney’s chances (although many libertarians scoff at the notion that those votes would otherwise go to a Republican), it’s doubtful third parties will make an impact this year. However, Larry King moderated a debate between them on Tuesday, and it’s worth noting.

The New York Times blog The Caucus reports:

The call by the liberals, Jill Stein of the Green Party and Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party, for an end to the war on drugs was amplified by Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate. Mr. Johnson offered bona fides on the question: “I have drank alcohol, I have smoked marijuana” — though not anymore, he said. Even Virgil Goode of the conservative Constitution Party, who opposes legalization, said he would cut financing for federal drug enforcement in the name of closing the deficit.

But their passion and refusal to compromise on the principles that reflect their ideas of American democracy marked each person on stage. In an illustration of the circular nature of the political spectrum, the staunch liberals and small-government conservatives all firmly opposed the practice of indefinite detention without trial and said that the Pentagon’s budget should be cut as the United States takes a less aggressive posture.

“We cannot be the policemen of the world,” Mr. Goode said, followed shortly by Ms. Stein’s similar sentiment: “A foreign policy based on militarism and brute military force is making us less secure, not more secure.”

The particular set questions, submitted by social media and the event’s organizers, disproportionately addressed issues where the candidates’ views are alike. It took a question about the cost of college to reveal strong differences. Ms. Stein, a physician, and Mr. Anderson, a former Democrat and mayor of Salt Lake City, both said the government should provide free higher education. The right-leaning candidates both said they would cut Pell grants, Mr. Johnson reasoning that guaranteed government loans make universities “immune from pricing.”

And even Mr. Johnson and Mr. Goode had differences. The latter said he would cut off immigration until the unemployment rate dropped to 5 percent, while Mr. Johnson, a former New Mexico governor who unsuccessfully ran in the G.O.P. primary, wants to make it easier for immigrants to get work visas.

Both men have been seen as possible spoilers for Mitt Romney, and Mr. Goode seemed to particularly relish that potential. A former Virginia congressman, he overcame Republicans’ efforts to keep him off the ballot in that state, and he frequently contrasted his plans to cut the budget with the slower approach of the Republican ticket.