This weekend, the Wisconsin Democratic Party held their state party convention and held their annual presidential straw poll. Hillary Clinton won the straw poll, but with 49% of the vote. In second place was Senator Bernie Sanders (VT) with 41% of the vote.
The results for Senator Sander’s was higher than expected, especially since Sander’s polls in the low double digits nationwide.
Neither campaign worked the straw poll, but they both had a presence. Clinton sent a video to party activists and Sanders appeared in a video that aired after the straw poll vote.
Vice President Biden and former Governor Martin O’Malley (MD) received 3% of the vote. Former Senator Jim Webb (VA) came in at 2% and former Governor Lincoln Chafee (RI) got 1%.
Straw polls are a simultaneously important, yet unimportant, part of presidential politics. Straw polls can give an indication of how the party faithful feel and wins can vindicate campaigns. However, there can be little return on investment, especially if the campaign participates and loses. However, straw polls, especially ones held at state conventions, tend to attract the most active in the party. This could make the results non-reflective of the political reality. There is also little correlation between winning a straw poll and having actual wins in the nomination process. In 2012, then-Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) won the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa, but then went on to place sixth in the state’s caucus.