I’ve been participating in the AOL Hot Seat poll for a few months now, and the results are usually not terribly surprising. Since most of us create questions that concern the election, mostly the results reflect the partisan split. Anything critical of one candidate will generally spur people to reflect their own positions, and in a 50/50 nation, we get 50/50 results, and usually the most interesting aspect is the state-by-state breakdowns.
Yesterday’s poll broke from that pattern in an interesting way. I asked people to answer whether Barack Obama’s broken promise to use public financing made him smart for seizing a fundraising advantage, or whether it made him look like a hypocrite with no principles. I expected a 50/50 result and wondered whether we would see anything interesting in the state breakdowns. Instead, 68% of the straw poll respondents have thus far chosen — hypocrite with no principles.
Bear in mind that the AOL Hot Seat poll is not scientific, and most of the first 5,000 votes came from Hot Air, which is obviously not Obama territory. However, most of these votes have come from AOL, which hasn’t shown much indication of partisanship in either direction during the history of the Hot Seat polls. AOL does a good job of limiting the potential for ballot-stuffing in its Hot Seat mechanism, so it doesn’t get gamed (and I’ve asked Ron Paul questions in the past to test that). The large response (over 110,000 votes) shows that the question resonated with voters.
And the rather overwhelming response came from across the nation. Only DC credited Obama with intelligence rather than dishonesty. Every other state has scolded Obama for his unprincipled reversal on public financing. Pennsylvania, which he needs to hold, cast almost 5,000 votes and 69% believed him to be a hypocrite. Oregon, which he’ll almost certainly win, cast a thousand votes, 64% of them in the negative. Obama hopes to steal Georgia, but 65% of the 3,000 straw-poll respondents think him unprincipled.
Has the glow dimmed on the political messiah? I think this latest reversal may have permanently crippled that feeling of phenomenon and returned Obama to Earth as just another politician. Unfortunately, Obama has nothing else to offer but that sense of difference — and if he’s lost that, he’s in big, big trouble.