Straw polls don't amount to a bushel of wheat, but they can provide some insight into political trends.
Such was the case at the Dorchester Conference last weekend where Republican attendees cast their lot with Monica Wehby over Jason Conger to unseat Sen. Jeff Merkley this fall.
The comments by former Sen. Bob Packwood, who founded the conference 50 years ago for a more moderate GOP, were a little brutal.
"I cannot pick a guaranteed winner," he said during the debate before the votes were cast. "But I can pick a guaranteed loser. Jason Conger is a guaranteed loser."
Of course, Packwood has his own credibility issues since he was forced to resign from the U.S. Senate in 1995 over sexual misconduct allegations from a number of women. It was ironic because Packwood was a bigtime supporter of abortion rights.
Conger is the Republican state representative from Bend who is giving up that seat to take on Merkley.
As reported in The Oregonian: "Packwood later said that he thought Conger's opposition to abortion rights and gay marriage put him on the wrong side of the Oregon electorate. Conger disputed that analysis, saying he thought Oregon voters are more concerned about economic issues."
Yes, Conger is right. Oregon voters care more about the economy than social issues.
But, Republican primary voters care more about social issues than the economy. They have for years now and that is one of the main reasons why their candidates can't win statewide races in the general election.
Wehby is pediatric neurosurgeon from Portland. She a political neophyte, but she came out strong against Obamacare. It's a stance that the GOP believes will take them to the promised land.
Wehby, though, says she's pro-life but doesn't believe the government should govern the abortion issue.
This puts her at odds with her opponent, Conger, and also the diehard GOP primary voter.
The fact that she's from Portland helps her chances, but Conger is the safe bet to claim victory, particularly in this era of the Tea Party.
To beat Merkley, though, Conger needs to attract almost all Republicans to his candidacy. He's not likely to do that since those at Dorchester and other moderates like them in the GOP ranks will have a hard time voting for Conger.
He'll also have a tough time winning over the majority of independents with his extremist views.
Plus, Conger doesn't have much of a chance of peeling off many votes from the Democratic ranks. There are about 200,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans in Oregon.
So, while Conger should lose handily in the fall, assuming that he wins the primary, it's a bit premature to say that he's a "guaranteed loser."
But, it's close to guaranteed.