RJ Harris internal poll of “likely delegates” shows Harris leading Wrights, others

Following is a communication from the RJ Harris 2012 campaign:

November 2, 2011

With your help and support we are the definite front runner for the 2012 Libertarian Presidential Nomination. We continue to ask for your support in getting the word out. Recently, we won the Illinois Libertarian Convention Straw Poll. We have also been winning over massive support across the country along with Libertarian State Leadership.

Just in case the image with the recent poll up above did not get to you here are the results:

2012 LIbertarian Presidential Poll (October 31, 2011)
Carl Person 2%
Roger Gary 7%
RJ Harris 32%
Lee Wrights 14%
Bill Still 2%
Undecided 43%

Polling Consisted of 240 Likely Delegates +-4% Error

The release does not say who conducted the poll, but the graphic on Harris’ website indicates that a firm called Polipolls conducted the survey. I am unfamiliar with this polling firm, but this Facebook page indicates that Polipolls has been used by at least one other Libertarian campaign in the past.

I e-mailed the Harris campaign with some followup questions concerning the methodology of the poll. I’ll post any response I receive as an update on this story.

[Update 1] Polipolls appears to be the polling arm of The Political Group, a campaign consulting firm that also designed Harris’ website.

[Update 2] I’ve heard back from the Harris campaign. They’ve declined to reveal more about the methodology of the poll (a common response for political campaigns, and not unexpected), but note that “the small percentage of error coincides with the subjects being a large percentage of the total pool.” Fair enough. Thanks to the Harris campaign for getting back to me.

Also, Tom Knapp, who was polled, reveals in comments that the poll was a robocall. Robopolling is a cheap and effective option for small campaigns; studies of outcomes since the 2004 election have shown no substantial differences in the accuracy of robopolling and in-person interviews.

26 thoughts on “RJ Harris internal poll of “likely delegates” shows Harris leading Wrights, others

  1. Thomas L. Knapp

    I’m interested in how the “likely delegate” population to be polled was identified. I was called, and I’m not even an LP member any more.

    Not sure if my vote counted, though — as soon as I made my selection I got an off-hook tone.

    I also received a snail mailer from the Harris campaign this week. Reasonably nice presentation. The guy is running a very professional campaign.

  2. Jeremy C. Young Post author

    Tom, that’s one of the questions I asked the campaign. In my opinion, the best way to identify that population would be to compare lists of 2004 and 2008 delegates and call people who were on both lists. That would mean you’d be called, but for the most part it would be a good predictor of likely delegates. The bad way to do it would be for Harris to supply a list to the pollster that was heavily weighted toward Oklahoma and the West. I’m hoping that’s not what happened.

    I also have questions about the polling methodology. Tom, did you talk to a person, or was it a robocall?

  3. George Phillies

    I have actually done the serious study of likely delegates. There is a core of about 150 people who repeat appear very regularly. The rest have never been there before.

  4. Jeremy C. Young Post author

    George, one of the questions would be how many elections back you should go. For instance, I would expect that virtually all of the folks who came to support Wayne Root in 2008 will be back, because Root will probably be running for something and because he’s involved in running the party. But many of them probably didn’t come in 2004. On the other hand, probably most of the Gravel supporters at the convention will not be back.

  5. Thomas L. Knapp


    Anecdotally (I’ve been to five national conventions as a delegate) I doubt that many delegates came to Denver in 2008 “to support Wayne Root.”

    Some came AND supported Wayne Root, but they didn’t come TO support him.

    At any convention, each candidate will recruit some delegates who are there — and who are quite possibly in the LP — entirely because they support that candidate. But those delegates are generally a fairly small portion of the overall attendance, and are split between the candidates.

    MOST of the delegates are there because they’re involved in the LP, not because they specifically support a particular candidate.

    MOST of the delegates who are there because they’re involved in the LP weren’t involved in the LP four years before and won’t be involved in the LP four years later.

    A slowly turning over population of perhaps 150-200 people remain actively involved with the LP over the course of a decade or more, and like doing the national convention thing, and are therefore delegates at convention after convention after convention (there’s a large population of long-time LP members — most of them don’t feel like they need to go to a national convention every two or four years, though).

  6. George Whitfield

    I have been a delegate to previous National LP Conventions and plan to attend the one in 2012. I am supporting RJ Harris. However, if Gary Johnson entered the contest I would give him serious consideration. If Ron Paul entered our nomination contest I would certainly vote for him.


    The poll left off: “Who are any of these people? 90%” Sorry for the sarcasm. Harris could get 99% of the likely delegates and still score <1% with the electorate. A non-libertarian once said we resemble a 12 year-old who won the town title in his Little League fantisizing the team could win the Major League World Series. And we could if only "we get the word out." heh heh

  8. Jeremy C. Young

    Tom, that’s interesting — I would have thought the delegations would be more stacked with personal supporters, particularly when the candidates (such as Root and Gravel and Barr) are not entirely Libertarian.

  9. Thomas L. Knapp


    There always rumors of stacking. In Denver, there were supposed to be busloads of Barr supporters coming in … but they never showed up.

    There have been attempts at stacking, but they’re mostly unsuccessful. The most organized one I recall was for Eli Israel for chair in 2002. He lost the election.

    Really, most recruitment of delegate supporters comes from within the population of people who are already likely delegates.

    It’s easier to convince someone who’s already planning to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars and travel hundreds or thousands of miles to be there to vote for YOU, than it is to convince someone who likes YOU to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars and travel hundreds or thousands of miles to sit in a room full of people they don’t know and write your name on a piece of paper over and over.

  10. Jeremy C. Young Post author

    No “likely” about it — the story clearly states that it was done by the Harris campaign.

    That makes the numbers not as trustworthy as an independent poll, but it’s still a useful metric. For instance, a lead of this magnitude can’t be all based on poll construction. Also, the poll provides useful information about things the candidate isn’t likely to want to misrepresent — namely, that Lee Wrights currently has more support than Bill Still, Roger Gary, or Carl Person.

  11. John C Jackson

    I still don’t know who this guy is. I keep reading about how he is “big in Oklahoma” for some reason, and he ran in a ( losing, by a lot, I think) Rep. primary in 2010 or something. But I really don’t see any evidence of him being well-known anywhere for anything. I’m not saying it should be a popularity contest- it’s just that I’ve seen him mentioned as if he’s well-known for something. Is he that guy in the IRS negotiation commercials?

  12. John C Jackson

    I see RJ Harris in Wikipedia is another guy with a radio show. This RJ Harris is redirected to the results from a primary that he lost 77.3 to 22.7%. So he’s at best the 2nd most notable RJ Harris in the U.S. There is ( another?) RJ Harris peddling a weightloss book- though I think it might be the radio guy based on his links ( he owns rjharris.com, of course). There is a former minor league baseball player, a Milwaukee wedding photographer, and a college football player- all named RJ Harris, and they all have more accessible information than candidate RJ Harris, excluding his own self-promotional site(s) and blogs like this one.

  13. Jeremy C. Young

    Or you could just look on Harris’ website to see what he’s been up to.

    The guy’s a career National Guard officer and air traffic controller, plus he did run for Congress in 2010. Given that he was running as an avowed RLC candidate against a popular entrenched incumbent in a deeply conservative district, I don’t think his 23% is terrible (though it’s not good either). Also, I note that that page has a photo of Harris in the control tower helping coordinate the Rodeo-Chediski Fire relief in 2002. As an Arizonan, I appreciate that Harris did that.

    Look, I feel like I’m defending Harris a lot here. Not only am I not a Libertarian, I think I probably disagree with Harris on the issues more than I disagree with any of the other candidates. What I’m objecting to is this sense that Harris is some kind of faker or charlatan. Just because he deviates from the LP platform on a couple of issues doesn’t make him a fake candidate. His deviations are right there on his website; he’s open and honest about them, and he wants to explain to you why he’s right and the LP platform is wrong. If you don’t agree with him, you shouldn’t vote for him, but I don’t see anything wrong with him running.

  14. Pingback: RJ Harris internal poll of “likely delegates” shows Harris leading Wrights, others | ThirdPartyPolitics.us

  15. wolfefan

    Hi Jeremy –

    You’re absolutely right in your comments @18. Harris is pretty clear about who he is and what he thinks. What I find interesting is to see a candidate for the Libertarian nomination actually doing some real polling, as opposed to some Internet-based poll. I have the sense as an outsider that this is something most Libertarian candidates don’t or can’t do even in the general election, let alone the primary. Of course, for most Libertarian candidates it wouldn’t matter much in the general, but I interpret even the existence of the polling as a sign of professionalism and competence.

  16. Jeremy C. Young

    Harris is contracting with a consulting firm called The Political Group, which specializes in running professional campaigns on tight budgets. They’re responsible for the website and the poll, among other things. On Harris’ homepage, it states that he’s raised less than $5000 so far (though I don’t know whether he’s added any of his own money). To be able to run a campaign this well on $5000 is ridiculous. I think everybody should hire The Political Group if they are this good.

    Also, I’ll note that the difficulty with doing this sort of poll isn’t about money, it’s about coming up with a reasonable list of “likely LNC delegates.” Certainly candidates such as Barr, Root, and Jingozian had the resources to pay for a robopoll. What’s hard is to get one that generates meaningful results in a convention environment. I don’t know what Harris has done to identify this list of delegates, but the numbers look fairly reasonable to me. They are probably a bit skewed toward Harris at this point, but that’s the whole point of an internal poll and should be taken for granted. They don’t seem horrifically skewed toward him — he didn’t produce results showing him 40 points up on Wrights, for example.

  17. Stewart Flood

    There will be a straw poll in South Carolina this Saturday. At the present time, with the sole exception of Mr Harris, all the “major” candidates seeking our nomination will be present and in the debate.

  18. George Phillies

    @24 Give them good hard questions.
    Ask how they are going to build the party. Ask them about their campaign organization. Ask them about their past record of activism.

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