The Drudge Report is asking readers who Mitt Romney should pick for his running mate, and the well-regarded pollster John Zogby told TheDC on Monday that the information might be useful to Romney.
“Drudge is important because this kind of ‘poll’ is voluminous and is a way to measure intensity of support or opposition,” Zogby told TheDC. “It could provide a glance of how strong hundreds of thousands of Drudge Report readers feel. It is not scientific but perhaps useful in the mix.”
Zogby cautioned that other qualities — “readiness, potential to carry a state, ideological balance and so on” — are essential in a running mate.
As of midday Monday, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was the favorite of Drudge readers, followed by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
With nearly 200,000 votes cast, the three other names on Drudge’s five-person list — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan — trailed far behind.
Pawlenty, feted in a positive New York Times review that was linked next to the Drudge poll, took a measly 4.5 percent of the online votes.
According to the Web statistics site Quantcast, the Drudge Report has around 13 million monthly visitors, making it the 68th most-visited website in the U.S. The site has a reputation for steering national news coverage.
Last Thursday Drudge reported that Romney insiders believed Rice was “now near the top of the list.” After the story broke, however, Rice’s chief of staff told TheDC that she does not want to be selected — reaffirming her previously reported aversion to seeking elective office.
Several options are missing from the Drudge Report poll, including Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who has indicated that he would accept the role. His selection would be a nod to libertarian-minded devotees of his father, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, Romney’s last-standing primary opponent.
The list also does not include Ohio Sen. Rob Portman or South Dakota Sen. John Thune.
Despite Zogby’s appraisal, University of Virginia politics professor Larry Sabato isn’t convinced that the online poll will have any influence on Romney’s decision.
“The Drudge Report is influential, but not on a matter of this importance,” Sabato told TheDC. “The only poll that counts on the VP choice is a poll of one: Mitt Romney’s opinion. Every indication is that Romney is close to a final decision anyway. And unlike in a poll, there’s no margin for error. It’s the nominee’s judgment, period.”
During the Republican presidential primaries, Drudge frequently ran polls asking readers who they favored. After the exclusive report on Rice, 63 percent of Drudge readers said Romney should pick her as his running mate. More than 500,000 readers participated in that poll.