Last week, you might have noticed a pop-up asking you to participate in our straw poll of potential Republican nominees. You were only supposed to see it once — if you saw it more than once, it’s because you hate cookies.

The poll was put together by a new member of our Above the Law team. Please welcome Brian Dalton, the new Director of Research at Breaking Media. He comes to us from Vault.com, where he was Director of Research & Consulting. Dalton will be putting together information for us at a statistically significant level. He’ll be telling you guys how you think.

With over 1,000 responses, we’re able to call the GOP primary and crown the lawyers’ choice among the candidates. Breaking news: it’s not Mitt Romney!

Well, I mean, Romney’s gonna win. Everybody knows that. But the guy lawyers want to win is very interesting. I’ll let Brian explain….

Brian Dalton here: I’m the new guy and I’ll be showing up from time to time on Above the Law in order to share survey data and other research findings. Breaking Media has launched a research department premised on the idea that ours is a uniquely valuable audience — much more than a source of character memes and in-jokes. We’re convinced that the ATL readership can provide real insight into a wide range of topics, from industry trends to career development.

As Elie notes above, we asked the ATL audience for its take on the field of Republican presidential candidates: who will win? Who, if anyone, do you support and why? Unsurprisingly, most respondents felt that Romney will inevitably take the nomination. (We received more than 1,000 responses to our survey — a fairly robust sample size.) However, the most popular personal preference was “None of the above” (42%), and the most commonly cited reason “why” was some variant of “they are all insane.” Indeed, for the left side of the ATL audience, skepticism about the mental health of the GOP field was the dominant theme. Other oft-repeated characterizations of the nominees included “extreme,” “xenophobic,” “ignorant,” and straight-up “evil.” You people do not mince words.

Meanwhile, back on what may as well be a different political planet, of survey respondents who do support a GOP candidate, a whopping 36% favor Ron Paul (Romney is the distant runner-up at 24%). Who knew? Consider that most national polls peg Paul’s support at 6-7%. That is some pretty striking dissonance. Why does Paul resonate with lawyers and law students? Do libertarianism and a legal career appeal to the same people? Isn’t that sort of counterintuitive? The ATL/Ron Paul contingent gushes about his “honesty,” “principles,” “consistency,” and how he alone among the candidates possesses a real understanding of the both the U.S. Constitution and economic reality. They also occasionally concede that he has no chance of actually winning.

Also receiving an anomalous amount of ATL support is Jon Huntsman: 13.5% vs. 1.3% nationally. Huntsman supporters commonly cite his “reasonableness,” “rationality,” “moderation,” and “sanity.” It occurs to me that these are qualities that most people ascribe to themselves. To use a Hollywood expression, is Huntsman the most — or the only — “relatable” candidate for this cohort?

Below is a look at how the ATL audience data compares with nationwide polling numbers (I’ve used the Real Clear Politics averages of polling data).

Finally, here is a assortment of “typical” comments from survey takers, explaining why they support a particular candidate. Can you identify who is being described?

1. I believe he will bring an “MBA” style of executive governance to the White House over a “J.D.” style. Additionally, he is familiar with the process of job creation and retention and can hopefully address the issues with the economy.

2. He is smart, competent, reasonably moderate, and electable.

3. Less slimy than Romney.

4. He’s the smartest person in the field. It’s a shame that he’s too smart for the average American. They just have no idea what he is trying to do. Everything he says is over their heads.

5. He seems to have the best grasp of public policy and that the Presidential power is limited to working with Congress, not declaring his opinion to be law.

6. He is sensible, consistent, and has a solid leadership/political record.

7. He apparently believes in science, which puts him ahead of the rest of the “people rode dinosaurs” pack.

8. [This candidate did not receive a single supportive comment.]

Mix-and-match answers below.

Elie here: I think Obama would rather run against Michele Bachmann, but I’m sure Paul would work just as well. I just don’t see how the Republicans can nominate Romney. He and Obama are basically the same guy, only Romney is willing to change his principles based on who he’s talking to at the moment while Obama maintains his principles but refuses to fight for them. They should just combine forces and run as Marack O’Rama while the Tea Party runs Ron-Rand of Nazareth, and progressives spend the entire election screaming “mic check!”

But I don’t think Ron Paul’s surprising success among lawyers means that Republican attorneys don’t like regulations. I think it means that they prefer regulations imposed by appointed judges as opposed to those enacted by duly elected representatives of the people.

Here are the answers to the game above:

1. Cain
2. Romney
3. Perry
4. Paul
5. Gingrich
6. Santorum
7. Huntsman
8. Bachmann


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