There Are Polls… And Then There Are Polls

GOP Polls

Were one to listen to the Mainstream Media about the 2016 presidential election, one might think that Jeb Bush would be the best candidate; or, Ben Carson; or, of late, Donald Trump. It really depends at what point in the campaign season you tune-in to the blathering. The reason for this candidate carousel is that the media uses “public opinion polls” as the basis for promoting candidates “at the top;” polls that it helps manipulate and feed through selective coverage — either by keeping candidates in the headlines, or, in Hillary Clinton’s case right now, keeping them out. In doing so, the media attempts to create the impression that popularity, or personality, is synonymous with value.

This traditional polling process masks real issues and understanding, and does a disservice to the country.

At Liberty Guard, the constitutionally-minded and liberty-focused non-profit for which I serve as Chairman, things are different. Unlike the media, which is bound by little more than popularity, or other political non-profits that rank candidates on a pet issue while ignoring others, Liberty Guard looks at a candidate’s stance on real issues from the sole perspective of personal freedom and constitutional understanding. The results thus revealed paint a far different picture about the best candidate for the White House in 2016 than what one finds elsewhere.

To derive its rankings of the candidates, Liberty Guard researched not one or two, but 10 substantive issues –healthcare, national security, taxation, immigration, electronic privacy, Second Amendment, cronyism, budget, education, and ethics –and awarded each candidate up to 10 points for their actions and public statements in each issue category. The intent was to take the major issues impacting Americans, and grading candidates not from a broadly-defined, multi-faceted and largely subjective “conservative”viewpoint, but on the objective, immutable standard of individual liberty. On national security, for example, we looked at whether candidates would expand or rein in the surveillance state; on cronyism, we looked at votes on federal subsidies or if candidates prioritized special interests over constituents.

Not surprisingly, what we found was that Liberty Guard’s rankings little resembled the popularity contests proffered by the media as a substitute for substance. When it comes to protecting individual liberty and promoting constitutional values in policy positions and action, Liberty Guard found Rand Paul (79 percent) and Ted Cruz (77.5 percent) to be the best candidates. Ben Carson, who ranked highest on ethics, but only mediocre on the budget, Second Amendment, and national security, came in at third with a combined 69 percent. Among the remaining members in the Republican field, media favorite Donald Trump was a middling 40.5 percent, with Chris Christie and Jeb Bush further behind at 39.5 percent and 37.5 percent, respectively — reflecting their substantive weakness on matters going to the heart of what America stands for: individual liberty and limited government power.

Overall, among all candidates from both major political parties, Hillary Clinton finished dead last, behind even avowed socialist Bernie Sanders; perhaps no surprise given her love for power and self-aggrandizement above all else.

Heading into what may be one of the most important presidential elections in American history, given the tumultuous state of our nation and the world, the Liberty Guard Candidate Scorecard is about more than simply providing an easy-to-digest ranking of candidates. It is designed to provide a deeper understanding of what should make a candidate the best person for the job of President of the United States of America.

As I have written previously, Donald Trump’s Latin “strongman” persona makes him an attractive candidate for conservatives weary of the passive-to-the-point-of-cowardly attitude of President Obama. Yet, as the Liberty Guard Candidate Scorecard illustrates, Trump is dangerously aloof from, if not consciously disdainful of, fidelity to constitutional government and individual freedom. And, without the Constitution as a guiding principle behind his presidency, his calculated grandstanding — like banning Muslims from entering the United States, and nonsensical proposals such as “limiting” the internet as a means of thwarting terrorists — not only threaten to bankrupt the nation, but dramatically undermine the very notion of individual liberty that is the bedrock on which our nation was founded.

This underscores why it is so important for conservatives and other voters to ignore media polls based purely on manufactured popularity, or personality cults that mask a candidate’s true beliefs; and instead to objectively weigh candidates on the only factor that matters to the long-term survival of the nation — personal freedom. We and our progeny will be forced to live with the choices based on such understanding for a long, long time.

Bob Barr is a former Congressman who represented the citizens of Georgia’s 7th Congressional District in the US House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. Bob heads Liberty Guard, a non-profit and non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting individual liberty.