"Marco" the bull. Photo by Larry Elkin.
Last week I demonstrated both the power and the limitations of taking polls in a democracy.
While on a trip to Utah, I attended CVX Live, a two-day event for and about online media stars and future stars of various stripes. YouTube creators and their fans enjoyed performances, meet-and-greet events and assorted other entertainment. That “assorted entertainment” is where the polling came in.
I was presented with the opportunity – or, depending on how you look at it, the temptation – to try my luck riding a mechanical bull. The bull, who I dubbed “Marco,” was surrounded by colorful, inflated cushions reminiscent of a bounce house. Marco’s expression, however, suggested he meant business.
Torn, I turned to my Facebook friends. I posted a picture of Marco and asked simply: “Should I do it? I have until tomorrow to decide.”
The responses arrived promptly. A few were less than enthusiastic – my brother simply wrote “Ummm” – but on the whole, “go for it” easily outpaced “no way.”
Yet for me, as for many past hopefuls, a poll did not forecast the outcome. An eleventh-hour development disrupted the seemingly foregone conclusion.
In other words, my wife nixed the idea. In no uncertain terms.
Now I had to break the news to my Facebook following that, while all votes are equal, some are decidedly more equal than others. This statement requires a nod in the direction of George Orwell. And where Orwell turned to the literary device of a farm commune run by animals in “Animal Farm,” I decided to inform my audience in the style of a CNN report. Here is the transcript. You’ll need to imagine your own soundtrack, though this should be easy enough if you have basic cable.
JAKE: That’s right, Wolf. Although Marco would seem to be the winner, this primary contest is taking place under the family-friendly rules of Utah. And in this primary, Utah has a superdelegate rule sometimes known as the “spousal veto.” This is highly technical, but it boils down to this: If the spouse of the candidate bull-rider casts an opposing vote and repeats herself three times, the bull automatically loses. It may seem undemocratic, but that’s the way it is, at least in Utah. Hold on. Larry from New York is about to speak.
LARRY FROM NEW YORK: Thank you everyone. Thank you for coming out in support of me. I know you support me even if you were hoping I would end up as a don’t-try-this video on YouTube. Either way, I win. All the polls say I would beat Marco easily. Easily. The margin would be huge. I would say this to Little Marco: You’re a nice enough bull, but you are low energy. Low energy. I've never seen a bull with less energy than you, Little Marco. Little children were riding you yesterday. I would have ridden you, and instead of paying your operators for the privilege, they would have paid me.
But it can’t happen this year because of this superdelegate rule, which might seem unfair, but that’s how it is. My wife commented here, then deleted her comment and sent me a text. Well, a lot of texts. I can’t tell you how many texts but it was a lot. We don’t tweet in my house, we text. And I’ve made a lot of deals, and they’ve all been winners because I always walk away from a bad deal. This is a bad deal, Little Marco. My wife said that if you didn’t kill me, she would kill me. Not in so many words. She loves me. Everyone loves me. All the polls say everyone loves me. But she loves me because I know enough not to defy her when she casts her superdelegate vote.
So I’ll tell you this, Little Marco: They are going to have another CVX Live in Utah next year, and it’s going to be unbelievable. By which I mean huge. It’s unbelievable how huge it will be. And I’m going to come back next year, and I’m going to ride you. This I can promise you. I’m going to ride you next year, Little Marco, if you don’t drop out of CVX Live first. And next year I’ll post the pictures on Facebook, and it will be huge, and my wife won’t kill me because all the polls say she won’t.
JAKE: So there you have it, Wolf. Larry from New York wins because he has the superdelegate and Marco the Bull doesn’t. So Larry gets to come back next year and ride that bull. If his wife doesn’t find out first, that is.
Happy April Fools’ Day, from a perpetual winner whose bones and dignity remain in one piece. At least for now.