Over the weekend at the Western Conservative Summit, a gathering of several thousand conservatives across the West, gubernatorial candidate George Brauchler took the top spot in the event’s straw poll with 38% of the vote. Coming in second place was Republican (yes, the poll also included Democrats) Vic Mitchell with 20%. The surprise third place winner was Steve Barlock, who was the Trump for Colorado chairman. He garnered seven percent of the vote.

State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, who has not yet declared his intent to run for Governor, came up with six percent of the vote and declared candidate Doug Robinson, nephew of Mitt Romney, took five percent.

While the poll is a good measure of evangelical sentiment, it hasn’t always been a good barometer for the eventual winner. A quick review of past straw poll winners:

  • 2011: Herman Cain (President)
  • 2012: Marco Rubio (Vice President)
  • 2013: Ted Cruz (President)
  • 2014: Ben Carson (President)
  • 2015: Ben Carson (President) – it’s also worth noting that Trump finished ninth this year
  • 2016: Newt Gingrich (Vice President)

That’s not to say the poll doesn’t matter, but it’s important to recognize that it does not necessarily represent the entire GOP voting bloc, and certainly doesn’t represent the potential independents who may vote in the 2018 gubernatorial primary, depending on the outcome of litigation.

That said, the early support for Brauchler and Mitchell shows that they are working hard to earn the trust of Republican voters far in advance of the 2018 primary. Congratulations on a job well done, gentlemen.