Ralph Benko

Superpollster Scott Rasmussen has pulled the pin and rolled one of his patented hand grenades under the chair of the Political Class. Rasmussen’s “October Surprise” is contained in a recent poll showing 44% of likely voters favor returning to the gold standard, 28% opposed.  That intensifies.  If the public knew that it would “dramatically reduce the powers of bankers and the political class to steer the economy” support goes up to 57%.   Opposition drops to 19%.

Reducing the power of bankers and the political class —  along with gold’s empirical record of turbo-charging job-creation and economic growth — is core for gold’s proponents.  Thus, that inevitably will become public knowledge and make gold a potentially huge electoral asset.

And there’s more.  Rasmussen’s results show that 79% of Tea Party voters (and 69% of simply self-described Republicans) would favor such an elitism-constraining gold standard.  The only solid majority opposition comes, unsurprisingly, from self-described members of the political class.  If anybody picks up on this dynamic it could prove decisive in what remains a remarkably fluid field with early contests fast approaching.

Rasmussen’s numbers strongly suggest gold is an electoral jet stream.  Fly with it and enjoy the tailwind; into it and suffer from headwinds.  More than this, Rasmussen may have uncovered a potential “Panama Canal Treaty”- scale issue for 2012.  Ronald Reagan, noting audience enthusiasm, elevated what had been a throwaway line criticizing the surrender of the canal back to Panama into a major campaign theme.  Others aspirants disdained it, giving Reagan a critical edge to, eventually, a hard fought victory.

Herman Cain and Ron Paul both are on record as supporting the gold standard.  Both are doing surprisingly well given their respective improbabilities, notwithstanding having handled the gold issue with extreme gingerness.  It can be argued that they have benefited, at least partially, from gold’s “tailwind.”


Ralph Benko

Ralph Benko, author of The Websters’ Dictionary: How to use the Web to transform the world. He serves as an advisor to and editor of the Lehrman Institute's thegoldstandardnow.org and senior advisor to the American Principles Project.