Way back when, before Marco Rubio chased Gov Charlie Crist out of the GOP, we didn't care about straw polls. Neither did Crist. Rubio won a number of them, and then Crist hightailed out of the party.
So now, we kind of care about GOP straw polls, such as today's Pinellas Park Republican plebescite ($25 to vote, folks), which Attorney General Bill McCollum's staff said he "won" with 209 votes to Rick Scott's 80 in the Republican race for governor. It's far from scientific. Nor have the results been confirmed.
If true, the results could shed some light on the "ground game" aspects of McCollum's campaign, which just wrapped up a four-day bus tour through North and Central Florida. At each stop, a few dozen elderly campaign volunteers cheered him on. The McCollum supporters in Pinellas looked like clones of those from Fernandina Beach to Bartow to Tampa Bay, where they also peppered him with questions about Scott's attack ads, a sign that Scott's Madison Avenue-like air war is working.
But the scene of elderly volunteers working in the August heat is also an indication that McCollum has some die hards on his side, that he has boots on the ground in contrast to Scott's ads on the air.
Scott's loads of cash have helped create a large presence in Florida, though most volunteers/campaign workers look rather young. And Republican primaries often hinge on the elderly vote. It's unlikely Scott, a political newcomer, has many seniors behind him, especially with his out-with-the-old campaign. Add the Medicare fraud attacks on Scott, and it's not a senior-centric kind of campaign.
This is all based on appearance, mind you. We haven't the foggiest who will win Aug. 24. The candidates don't either. But right now, this looks like a battle of outsider vs. insider, young vs. old and earth vs. air.