GOP strategist Karl Rove

When it comes to picking a presidential candidate for 2016, the GOP elite is having a hard time getting the grassroots to toe the establishment line.

Top Republican strategist Karl Rove, for example, has repeatedly praised Chris Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey, as “a strong potential candidate in 2016,” whom Democrats fear will win the nomination.

And when other names gained popular attention, particularly attention among the so-called tea-party crowd, the man known as the “architect” was quick to criticize.

Rove, for example, blasted potential presidential hopeful Ted Cruz for not playing ball with the GOP establishment, just as the Texas senator’s name started to gain traction with Republican voters.

Rove similarly opened fire on Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., for talking about Monica Lewinsky and potential Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the same breath.

And even if Christie has fallen from favor among the establishment, other GOP insiders have floated names like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and even the return of former presidential candidate and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney as possible nominees in 2016.

But now a poll on one of the Internet’s top websites, the Drudge Report, reveals the ground troops just aren’t buying it.

With over 234,000 votes counted, Rove’s “strong potential candidate,” Christie, was garnering less than five percent of the vote. Bush had just over six percent. Ryan had less than four.

But despite fiery criticism from the GOP establishment, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was registering over 28 percent in the Drudge Report poll, while Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul was leading the survey, with over 30 percent. Paul’s 72,297 votes compared impressively to Christie’s 11,437.

Drudge Report poll

Other recent polls of favorite presidential picks showed the same stark division between political conservatives and the GOP elite.

For example, Paul also won the straw poll at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, with 31 percent of the vote. Cruz came in second, with 11 percent, while Christie garnered only 8 percent.

A separate, independent straw poll of conservatives conducted by veteran activist Richard A. Viguerie of found Paul again the favorite, with 29 percent, and Cruz again in second, with 17 percent. Christie came in at 10 percent, while Ryan and Bush only picked up 2 percent each.

National pollsters Gallup and Rasmussen have not recently polled Republicans on their top 2016 choice.

The current WND poll on the question, however, also illustrates the point, with Paul and Cruz leading the pack around 30 percent each, with Ryan, Christie and Bush all around one percent.

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