There are few events in the Republican pre-primary process with as much fanfare and press attention as the Ames Iowa Straw Poll. First held in 1979, every time there is an open GOP contest, the Straw Poll has been a part of the pre-primary ritual. But the 2011 Straw Poll ought to be the last one. It’s time to kill off the Iowa Straw Poll.
First, let’s get a few things out of the way to start. Yes, the Straw Poll brings a huge amount of media coverage to our side of primaries. Yes, the Straw Poll raises a ton of money for the Iowa Republican Party. Yes, there is often genuine suspense about what the results will be. Yes the candidates use it to get an early test of their organization. Yes, it gives us political junkies a chance to look at the field before it winnows down by the end of the year. All of these things are true, but the negatives about the Straw Poll outweigh the positives.
One of the biggest complaints about the Straw Poll is the money involved. It’s very expensive to compete in the Straw Poll; in 1999, George W. Bush spent north of $750,000 on the Straw Poll and Steve Forbes shelled out even more than that. Mitt Romney spent a good deal of money in 2007 and in 2011 the only Tim Pawlenty campaign ads of the cycle were to try and appeal to Straw Poll goers. Even with some of the ridiculous spending that goes on in presidential campaigns, the Iowa Straw Poll is almost in a category all its own. Steve Forbes is the best example of this; to earn a second place in 1999, he had a two story, air-conditioned tent and a blimp inside the coliseum. Money is a precious commodity in presidential campaigns and candidates who are on a shoe-string budget find it very hard to compete at this event.
The second big problem with the Straw Poll is the overemphasis that is put on an event. Remember, the Straw Poll is only a small subset of the caucus goers. The 2011 Straw Poll had 16,892 participates while the actual 2012 Iowa Caucuses had 121,140 participants. In other words, less than 20% of the people who went out to caucus had gone to the Straw Poll. Secondly, a lot of candidates end up putting all their eggs in the Straw Poll basket. Tim Pawlenty, Tommy Thompson, Sam Brownback, Dan Quayle, Lamar Alexander in 2000, and others I’m sure I’m forgetting were all driven out of the race because of an even that had nothing at stake. I’m not saying any of these people should’ve been our nominee or would have done well in the actual Iowa Caucus, but one could argue that their campaigns were prematurely ended because of the Straw Poll.
Most importantly, the Iowa Straw Poll is often wrong. Very wrong. The last Straw Poll in 2011 is the most egregious example of this. The top three candidates were Michelle Bachmann, Ron Paul and Tim Pawlenty. Out of those three, Pawlenty dropped out the day after the Straw Poll, Bachmann finished dead last in the Caucus, and Ron Paul, whatever your feelings about him, was never going to be the Republican nominee. In fact, in the last three Straw Polls, one of the top three candidates have dropped out of the race before the Caucuses even began. Most tellingly, the last two Republican nominees for President skipped the Straw Poll in the year they won the nomination. John McCain never competed in the Straw Poll in either 1999 or 2007 and Mitt Romney, after winning the Straw Poll in 2007 but losing the caucuses, skipped the Straw Poll altogether and nearly won the caucuses anyways.
Fortunately there are voices in Iowa that recognize the increasing irrelevancy of the Straw Poll. Governor Terry Branstad, who is popular enough to have been elected to a sixth term as Governor declared that the Straw Poll has “outlived its usefulness” and should at the very least be radically restructured. The new Chairman of the Iowa GOP, Jeff Kaufmann is an ally of Governor Branstad and has said that the Straw Poll will be addressed before the end of the year. Here’s hoping they just decide to nix the Straw Poll altogether.
The Republican National Committee recently began an on-line straw poll asking its members which candidate they would like to see. The respondents are to circle any three. The list includes:
Write-in votes are allowed.
The results have not been published anywhere that I’ve seen, and I don’t particularly wish to sign up just so they can get my email address to spam me. However, if you are inclined to participate, here is the link.
Rand Paul wins 2014 CPAC straw poll http://t.co/u8zp3eMRPA
— HuffPost Politics (@HuffPostPol) March 8, 2014
Full results: Paul 31%, Ted Cruz 11%, Ben Carson 9%, Chris Christie 8%
Via First Read:
“Torch of liberty” scion Rand Paul was the choice of the plurality of conservatives at the Conservative Political Action Conference, as Paul won the much-hyped straw poll with 25 percent. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was a close second with 23 percent.
It shouldn’t be surprising that the Kentucky senator won the straw poll. This was not a weekend of self-reflection for conservatives. It was one of standing by principles, and no one more represents standing by principles than Paul.
Paul last week further endeared himself to conservatives by going through with a 13-hour filibuster – a modern-day record – of President Barack Obama’s nomination to be chief of central intelligence. That effort by the Tea Party favorite prompted Twitter hash tags, signs at CPAC, and even fundraising emails from the National Republican Senatorial Committee by the name of Stand With Rand.
Full story here.
The Wall Street Journal has the story:
Is one of the quirkiest rituals of the Republican presidential election calendar heading for the grave?
It is, if Iowa’s Republican Gov. Terry Branstad has his say.
Eyeing the wreckage of the 2011 Ames Straw Poll, which Rep. Michele Bachmann won only to fizzle as a candidate soon after, Mr. Branstad wants to do away with the whole thing.
“I think the straw poll has outlived its usefulness,” Mr. Branstad said of the 33-year-old GOP ritual. “It has been a great fundraiser for the party but I think its days are over.”
Going back to 1979, Republican presidential contenders have flocked to Ames, Iowa, in August to eat fried food, dance to country bands and wheedle votes from the party faithful in what amounts to an overblown party fund-raiser disguised as a trial run for the real Iowa caucuses early the next year.
Its track record as an anointer of GOP nominees falls far shy of impressive. Only two victors, Bob Dole in 1995 and George W. Bush in 1999, went on to win the Iowa caucus the next year and then the nomination in November. And only one, Mr. Bush, went on to become president.
Full story here.
To hear North Dakota Republicans tell it, their endorsing convention last weekend in Bismarck was a triumph. To hear others who are not party types tell it, the convention was little more than a coronation bulldozer that shoved aside any dissent in the ranks.
The latter description has some validity. Here’s why.
Most of North Dakota’s 25 presidential convention delegates will trot off to Tampa this summer as supporters of current frontrunner former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. But how can that be? Just a few weeks ago North Dakota Republicans gathered in caucuses in every county in the state and (guess what?) handed former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum a convincing win. The second spot went to Texas Congressman Ron Paul. And Romney, who was awarded all the state’s delegates at the convention? Where did the convention’s choice finish after caucus votes were counted? A distant third, that’s where.
Which raises two questions:
First, why conduct caucuses if the results mean nothing when delegates to the national convention are selected?
Second, how can convention managers even suggest they conducted a representative delegate selection process when Santorum and Paul supporters were disenfranchised?
Not only did third-place-caucus finisher Romney get the convention’s nod, but party Chairman Stan Stein refused to allow further debate. One delegate who tried had her microphone turned off. So went the party bulldozer.
This is just one of many tales of such high-handed maneuvering that I’ve heard about in multiple states for or against one or more of the candidates. In many cases Romney was the victim. In some cases, Paul was the perpetrator. In others, Santorum. But no matter who’s the target or who’s at fault, these reports trouble me.
That first question raised in the article is perfectly legitimate. Why bother holding non-binding caucuses or primaries? They might give the winner bragging rights to be sure, but if they don’t mean a thing, then why bother? This sort of thing breeds anger, resentment and discontent among fellow Republicans. Good grief. Some Romney supporters still harbor a grudge over the maneuverings in West Virginia last time in 2008. We don’t need this sort of thing.
Nobody, but nobody could possibly mistake HotAir as a pro-Romney site. The site boasts some of the most passionate ABRs on the web. Yet the results of the latest straw poll of its members is most telling.
Here are all the trend lines:
And here are trend lines of just the active candidates:
As Hot Air says:
It’s both the highest percentage of the vote and the largest margin between first and second place we’ve had to date.
Up to just the last poll Mitt never led this poll. He never even came close. Then last time he won for the first time ever, but wasn’t that impressive. That was not the case this time. Mitt wins with more than 60% of the vote. His closest rival didn’t even make a third of that.
It would appear that even an ABR stronghold like Hot Air is starting to bow to what seems the inevitable.
Per Matthew E. Miller’s excellent suggestion, here are the VP results:
The Caucus reports:
Mr. Romney has struggled to win the allegiance of the most conservative Republicans, and made his strongest appeal yet to them in his speech to the conference on Friday. The Romney campaign also worked aggressively behind the scenes for a strong showing, including busing students from colleges along the Eastern Seaboard to show their support.
All within the rules of CPAC Straw Poll, but we’re kidding ourselves if we believe Romney’s straw poll win was the result of assuaging conservative leaders.
Hat-tip: The Argo Journal
Or, How Romney got his groove back.
Romney’s speech to the CPAC crowd yesterday was greatly anticipated – and was widely hailed as living up to high expectations. This afternoon, we see the results of Romney rediscovering his mojo: a solid win in the CPAC straw poll:
Thirty-eight percent is the highest anyone has received in the CPAC straw poll since Dubya landed 42% back in 2000. This momentum boost and vote of confidence from conservative activists has got to be severely disappointing to Santorum and Gingrich supporters…
Herman Cain 51%
Ron Paul 45%
Newt Gingrich 1%
Rick Perry 1%
Mitt Romney 1%
Gary Johnson 0%
Rick Santorum 0%
The Ohio Straw Poll was held as a pay to play event where participants paid $25 to vote. Of the 428 particants who voted, the results were:
Ron Paul 53.50%
Herman Cain 25.47%
Mitt Romney 8.88%
Newt Gingrich 5.37%
Rick Perry 2.80%
Jon Huntsman 2.10%
Rick Santorum .93%
Michele Bachmann .47%
The Huntsman surge continues.
This straw poll was taken of the attendees at the Western Republican Leadership Conference in Las Vegas — the event kicked off by the debate Tuesday night. The attendees were surveyed over a period of three days, and just 550 total votes were cast. Here are the results, for what they’re worth:
- Cain – 31%
- Romney – 29%
- Gingrich – 20%
- Paul – 10%
- Perry – 4%
- Bachmann – 1%
- Santorum – 1%
- Huntsman – 0.3%
- Johnson – 0%
Many Ron Paul supporters are upset about those who challenge the legitimacy of Ron Paul’s straw poll victories. The thought is that straw polls have been historically important, yet victories like Paul’s win at the Values Voter Summit are called into question or devalued.
The problem with Ron Paul’s Straw Poll victories is that the only value of straw polls is if they legitimately measure a sample of some constituency. If a straw poll is done of delegates to the Florida Republican Convention as the Florida Straw Poll was, it can be seen as an indicator as to where Florida’s GOP grassroots leadership is. The problem with Paul’s victories is that they often totally spoil the sample.
The Values Voters Straw Poll is a case in point. If the Straw Poll means anything, it indicates where certain grassroots social conservative leaders (with a particular bent towards those in the DC area) are in their thinking on the Presidential race. What happens if you add 600 Libertarians who disagree with much of what the Values Voters believe and are only there to vote for Ron Paul? It totally negates any value that could be obtained from the straw poll. It’s as if the Yankees were holding a convention and voting for their favorite Yankee and 800 Giants fans showed up and voted for Willie Mays and Willie Mays won as the best Yankee despite never playing for the Club.
Of course, there are caucus states where the straw polls do have some relevance. Caucuses are often matters of organization and intensity and so are straw polls. That’s why many are looking for Ron Paul to do very well in Iowa after the second place finish in the straw poll.
But when straw poll “wins” only indicate that a candidate’s supporters are willing to buy tickets and show no gain in a larger constituency, they’re as irrelevant as a web poll.
Another day, another straw poll victory for Herman Cain:
St. Paul–Herman Cain topped the Republican Presidential Straw Poll conducted at the Midwest Leadership Conference, which concluded today, October 8. Conference attendees from throughout the Midwest, MLC volunteers and event vendors participated in the balloting.
Herman Cain captured 52.6 percent of the vote followed by Michele Bachmann with 12.2 percent and Mitt Romney at 11.1 percent.
Rick Perry captured 4%. Gingrich 3%, and others further back. Due to recent complaints, about lack of coverage, I note that Gary Johnson received 0.2% of the vote.
Cain addressed the conference on Saturday and took questions at the event, which definitely helped. The Conference drew attended from a wide swath of the country, but it being in Minnesota probably helped Michele Bachmann.
I should note that Ron Paul did get 10.7% at this event and also his supporters successfully bought enough tickets to win the Value Voters Straw Poll in Washington.
In a bit of news that is sure to warm the cockles of MWS’s* heart, the word is out that Jon Huntsman has won a poll. His total more than doubles Mitt Romney score, who came in second. In fact, his score was better than the next five people combined. That is quite the decisive victory for the former Utah Governor.:
Which ONE of the following people do you think is most qualified to be president?
- Jon Huntsman — 49
- Mitt Romney — 22
- Rudy Giuliani — 10
- Ron Paul — 9
- Chris Christie — 3
- Newt Gingrich — 3
- Herman Cain — 2
- Sarah Palin — 1
- Rick Perry — 1
- Rick Santorum — 0
- Michele Bachmann — 0
Where did Huntsman make his breakthrough? It was in the straw poll taken during the “Take Back the American Dream Conference 2011″ put on by the Democracy Corps/The Campaign for America’s Future people this week.
Things are not looking good for the winner of the Ames, IA, straw poll. From the AP:
More top aides to Republican Michele Bachmann are quitting her presidential campaign, raising questions about the viability of her White House bid.
The major departures are pollster Ed Goeas and senior adviser Andy Parrish.
Bachmann’s deputy press secretary also transferred back to the congressional office. So has her scheduler.
Last month, Bachmann’s campaign manager and his deputy stepped down within weeks of her Iowa GOP straw poll victory.
This was in the LATimes yesterday:
Bachmann has dropped in the polls here [Iowa], as she has nationally. Top advisors have left or been forced out. Reports of lackluster fundraising were bolstered by her campaign’s plea to supporters last week for “emergency” contributions.
At an event in Cedar Rapids, aides handed out leftover brochures asking for support at the straw poll, more than a month ago.
Recent events have drawn low turnouts. And she continues to make gaffes.
Remember, this is in Iowa, her must-win state, the state in which she has placed all her marbles. If she can’t turn this thing around soon, she won’t last long.
FEC filings are due out in less than two weeks. An anemic fundraising report could spell doom for her chances.
That makes next week’s debate one of critical importance for her. It represents what might be her last chance of turning this thing around. Barring a real knock-em-dead performance, she might not last until Thanksgiving.
The Michigan GOP held it’s Mackinac Island conference this weekend. While there, they held a quick straw poll. 681 votes were cast. Here are the results:
- Romney — 51
- Perry — 17
- Cain — 9
- Paul — 8
- Bachmann — 4
- Gingrich — 4
- Santorum — 3
- Huntsman — 2
The only real surprise for me here is the poor showing of fellow mid-westerner Michele Bachman. You would think that she would have broken five percent at least.
Both Romney and Perry worked the conference. They each addressed the crowd last night. Romney, as usual, focused his energy on defeating Obama and denounced the President’s leadership. Perry, as befitting one who is no longer the frontrunner, took subtle digs at Romney during his remarks.
One anecdote from the conference as reported in the National Journal:
Romney seized home field advantage in his remarks Saturday night. He charmed the crowd with inside references to Michigan (“I like people who, when you ask them where you’re from, they hold up their hand”) and an endearing moment with his wife, Ann. As the Romneys stood side by side during Mrs. Romney’s brief remarks, members of the audience began tapping their wine glasses with silverware, a wedding tradition that calls for a kiss from the bride and groom.
Romney at first looked puzzled then said, “Oh!” – and gave his wife a quick kiss.
I had to share this:
The Perry campaign cast their disappointing finish as a resounding victory over Romney, Perry’s top rival for the GOP nomination.
“It’s a devastating loss for Mitt Romney, who has been campaigning for president for the last five and a half years,” said Perry spokesman Mark Miner. “We have only been in this race for five and a half weeks. Mitt Romney still cannot resonate with conservative voters, especially in Florida.”
You know. After the horrendous debate performance last Thursday, the drop in the polls Friday, and the loss by 22% this Saturday in a straw poll in which Rick had pulled out all the stops, I would have thought that the Perry Campaign’s number #1 priority would have been to try to re-establish some of their lost credibility.
Apparently I was mistaken.
A Presidential candidate simply has to have credibility. If no one can take them seriously, they are doomed.
Rick Perry’s campaign seems to be working overtime at destroying theirs. Their stock in trade appears to be over-the-top rhetoric, the more bellicose the better. They are in desperate need of finding someone who will make sure that their public statements will pass the laugh test. This is especially urgent since Thursday when Perry’s limitations were laid bare for the whole world to see.
If they cannot succeed in getting people to take them seriously again, they are history. They will end up following the trajectory of the rise and fall of Donald Trump earlier this year.
The question is, do they not know this? Do they not understand the damage issuing absurd statements such as the above has on their credibility? Do they not see the danger?
This latest official release from their campaign suggests that they don’t.
Presidency 5 is in the history books and it certainly provided a surprise. Herman Cain won a huge victory, taking over 37% of the vote in the Florida Straw Poll. Here are some final thoughts on the past few days:
1.) The win by Herman Cain has been something that’s been building for the last 3 days. It started with his solid debate performance on Thursday. Friday, when CPAC FL was going on, Cain’s speech helped crystalize the favorable impression he gained from Thursday. When he stopped at his campaign booth to sign autographs, there was a huge crowd waiting for him. By the time he electrified the delegates this afternoon, I along with several of the other delegates I talked to all thought he would win the Straw Poll. It was very interesting to watch as the momentum seemed to almost physically shift in Cain’s direction over the course of Presidency 5
2.) As for the talk about Perry or Romney supporters urging their people to vote for Cain, here’s an anecdote. I talked with a Perry supporter who said that they voted for Cain not because of some tactical voting, but because they liked what Cain had to say. The Romney people I talked to general seemed to want to stick by their man, but there could’ve been tactical voting by some I didn’t get to (after all, it’s hard to talk to every supporter of every candidate).
3.) The most moving moment of the past three days was this afternoon’s tribute to former Republican Party of Florida Chairman David Bitner. Chairman Bitner tragically passed away from Lou Gehrig’s disease a few weeks ago and RPOF put together a nice video tribute. Mrs. Bitner also made some brief remarks that were very nice. Chairman Bitner worked very hard to bring this event together so it was a shame he wasn’t able to be here to see it.
4.) Michele Bachmann’s rapidly fading campaign seems to have reached rock bottom here in Florida. The Minnesotan won a pathetic 40 votes (1.5%) and she wasn’t missed.
5.) Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Presidency 5 and I think RPOF learned a lot about running an event like this, which will be a big help when the Republican National Convention is held next year in Tampa. The Florida GOP has held “Presidency” events in every open GOP primary since 1980 with the exception of 2000. Here’s hoping we don’t have to have another Presidency event down here until 2020.
Fla straw poll: Cain 37 % Perry 15 % Romney 14 % Santorum 11 % Paul 10 % Gingrich 8 % Huntsman 2 % Bachmann 1 %
Sorry, Iowa GOP. Not many folks are going to care about your Ames straw poll in the future.
In fact, not many care about it this year now, either.
The race for the Republican nomination is setting up to be a showdown between Mitt Romney and Rick Perry. Both men bypassed the straw poll on their potential routes to the nomination.
Even if you were to expand the field beyond these two, however, the irrelevance of Ames comes into sharper focus. According to the investors over at Intrade, the four people with the greatest chance of securing the GOP nod — with a combined chance of close to 85% — all have one thing in common: they put zero effort into Ames.
What did Ames provide its entrants this year? Nothing but a kick in the teeth. Bachmann got no bump in the polls or increase in momentum after winning the event outright. In fact, she was sliding prior to the vote; she continues to slide a week and a half later. She peaked at around 15% or so in national polls prior to Ames. Now, according to the RCP average, she’s down to about 9%. In Iowa, she hit high 20s and low 30s before Ames. Now, two polls show her at nearly half that: 15% in one, 17% in another. Bachmann is fading into obscurity, upstaged by her non-Ames opponents.
What of Ron Paul? He nearly surprised the GOP establishment with a win at Ames, falling short by just 150 votes. But since then, he’s sunk back down into single digits in the national polls as well. Tim Pawlenty? His massive expenditure of energy and money got him a one-way ticket out of the race altogether. Rick Santorum? Herman Cain? Most of America still responds, “Who?” when given those names.
In the leadup to Ames, I predicted that Rick Perry’s entrance into the race would completely overshadow whatever happened in Iowa that Saturday. According to a new Pew study, that prediction proved correct. Taking every news story that pertained to the 2012 election last week, they discovered that Rick Perry was the subject of 55% of them. The next closest Republican in the news? Mitt Romney, who accounted for 6% of the stories last week.
In other words, Rick Perry dominated. No one heard or cared about Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, or Tim Pawlenty. The top two newsmakers on the GOP side during the week immediately proceeding Ames were two candidates that didn’t even compete there.
This highlights the simple cost-benefit analysis Romney (and others) used when deciding to compete at Ames this time around. The costs were immense: a million dollars (at least) and all your campaign time, focus, and energy spent in a tiny town in Iowa. The benefits, on the other hand, were minuscule at best.
Which is why fewer and fewer candidates will compete there in the future. Ames was a fun tradition (to watch and to poke fun at) while it lasted — but it has now become irrelevant.
2012 Republican Presidential Nomination
|Poll||Average||Rasmussen||FOX News||CNN||USA Today / Gallup||McClatchy / Marist|
|Date||7/18 – 8/9||8/15 – 8/15||8/7 – 8/9||8/5 – 8/7||8/4 – 8/7||8/2 – 8/4|
While Pawlenty only had about 3 percentage points to his name when he dropped out of the race, the first full post-Ames poll (done by Rasmussen) shows a healthy Perry lead, with no real gains for anyone else. It has to be assumed that Perry benefits a little bit by the absence of Pawlenty (though the biggest beneficiary may be a prospective Christie or Ryan run). In this edition, Bachmann continues to slide, even while solidifying her position as the Iowa frontrunner. National polls, of course, mean little at this point, as a good showing in an early primary or caucus state can cause tectonic alterations in national polling overnight.
Like I said last week, little is keeping Gingrich and Cain in the race at this point, either polling-wise or issue-wise. For some reason, Santorum’s 9% finish in the Ames Straw Poll seems to be garnering him a lot of press, despite the fact that in 2007’s Ames Straw Poll, no-chancers like Brownback and Tancredo got 15% and 13% respectively (while eventual nominee McCain received less than 1%). It reinforces my perplexity as to why so much weight is given to this Straw Poll at all. Ron Paul, the man who came in a fraction of a percent behind Bachmann, has been shamefully treated by the media, though his polling numbers continue to build, slowly and steadily.
Not quite as big of a deal as the Ames Straw Poll, but New Hampshire’s New Castle Straw Poll hosted by Young Republicans took place last evening:
- Ron Paul 45%
- Mitt Romney 10%
- Rick Perry 8%
- Thaddeus McCotter 8%
- Gary Johnson 6%
- Michele Bachmann 5%
- Herman Cain 5%
- Jon Huntsman 3%
- Rick Santorum 3%
- Buddy Roemer 3%
- Newt Gingrich 1%
- Paul Ryan (write-in) 1%
- Rudy Giuliani (write-in) 1%
- Fred Karger 0%
All the official campaigns participated in and had representatives at the event, except for Gingrich, Perry, Romney, and Santorum.
2012 Republican Presidential Nomination
|Poll||Average||FOX News||CNN||USA Today / Gallup||McClatchy / Marist||Rasmussen|
|Date||7/18 – 8/9||8/7 – 8/9||8/5 – 8/7||8/4 – 8/7||8/2 – 8/4||7/28 – 7/28|
Rick Perry’s decision definitely puts a dent in Michelle Bachmann’s claim to the Tea Party constituency, and in Tim Pawlenty’s endeavor to make himself into the compromise candidate between the principle and pragmatism camps. I wouldn’t count Bachmann out just yet. A lot of Palin supporters who are perhaps holding out for the former Alaska Governor to get into the race might be shaken loose by Bachmann’s victory in the Ames Straw Poll, and Bachmann’s numbers could boom if Palin were to announce that she is not running (and even moreso if Palin were to endorse her fellow Mama Grizzly). Paul’s strong finish in the Straw Poll where he placed fifth last time will also help him to be taken more seriously. At this point in the season, this is mainly a four-person race: Romney, Perry, Bachmann, and Paul.
There is little keeping Cain, Gingrich, Pawlenty and Santorum in the race at this point. These candidates are well-known, they’ve all had their 15 minutes in the spotlight, and yet they’re just not taking off. Furthermore, none of them seem to have any ideological crusade pressing enough to keep them in the race. Underdogs like Johnson, Roemer and Karger all have a raison d’être that keeps them in the race despite low poll numbers (Goldwater libertarianism, the corrupting influence of money in politics, and gay rights, respectively). Santorum might claim social conservatism as the issue that demands his candidacy, but Bachmann and Perry seem to be giving sufficient voice to that interest group.
As always, I must remind the reader of the folly of counting anyone out this early in the race (and it is still early). While unlikely, it is still well within the realm of possibility for anyone from Cain or Gingrich down to Johnson or McCotter to ignite (or re-ignite), given the right opportunity. (At this point in 2007, McCain was “dead in the water” and “anathema to the conservative base,” and Huckabee was “doomed to low single digits nationally” and had “no appeal outside of the hardcore evangelical vote”.)
In the wake of this year’s straw poll at Ames, there are no more than four viable candidates remaining for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
One such candidate is the winner of the poll, Rep. Michele Bachmann. By besting all other comers by double-digits, excepting perennial niche candidate Ron Paul, Congresswoman Bachmann set herself apart from the gaggle of declared candidates not named Mitt Romney. She is now officially the socially conservative choice for the nomination and will be a force to be reckoned with during next year’s Iowa Caucus.
Another remaining viable candidate is Gov. Mitt Romney. The former Bay State governor remains the frontrunner for the nomination, and is pretty much the only viable choice left for “Regular Republicans” who generally select the nominee, despite the mythology that surrounds the power of “The Base.” Romney’s standing will not be harmed by today’s events due to his decision to skip Ames, and Romney now has a shot at consolidating the types of Republicans who nominated Nixon, Dole, Ford, McCain, and two Bushes.
A third viable candidate is Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Despite a rollout that leaves some questioning whether Perry would have been better off positioning himself as the Tea Party candidate in the race instead of yet another evangelical candidate, the fact remains that Perry is doing better in the polls than most of his Republican opponents, and his presidential announcement this weekend ensures that he will deny Bachmann a monopoly on the current news cycle when it comes to the GOP race. Perry’s candidacy will at the very least be a novelty that will take the race into the fall.
Finally, Sarah Palin continues to give mixed signals as to whether or not she plans to enter the race. If Palin does enter, she will become yet another candidate vying for the votes of “The Base” while Romney continues to dominate among the “Regular Republicans.”
Pretty much everyone else is done as of tonight. Ron Paul will remain in the race for good measure, but will continue to occupy a very specific space in the GOP field, one that leaves little room for growth. Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who came in a distant third, is done. Once viewed as the compromise choice for the nomination, Pawlenty has proven to be half a loaf to all wings of the party. He was a jack of all trades, and thus a master of none.
First, the results:
My quick take: goodbye, Pawlenty and Cain. Hello, Romney vs. Perry smackdown.
And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: the winner of the prediction contest! Out of the three dozen entries we had, fifteen predicted Bachmann winning the day. Out of those 15, only ten predicted Ron Paul coming in second and just seven had the top three in the correct order.
Out of those seven entries, then, my editorial judgment leads me to give the R4’12 bragging rights to: Craig for… [whoever Craig is for today]! Craig correctly predicted the top three and pegged Pawlenty at 13%, a ways back from Bachmann and Paul. Additionally, he had the bottom of the pack well squared away. UPDATE: And, yes, Craig also pegged Bachmann’s percentage exactly at 29% as well. Nice work!!
Two runners up ribbons go to Adam Graham (if he had flipped Santorum and Cain, and had predicted a percentage for Perry, he very well could have taken home the gold) and to Some0ne You Know (who just had a little too much space between Paul and Bachmann, had Santorum and Cain flipped, and McCotter a little high). Congratulations to all three of you!
Finally, my own prediction was surprisingly accurate as well: outside of giving Palin 2%, I nailed the correct order of finishing for the entire list. Awesome.
Here’s the average of all of your predictions from a couple threads down:
And there was one person who predicted Huckabee at 5% with write-in votes.
We’ll find out how close we were in a few hours! I won’t be around to post the results, but I’ll check back in later tonight and do a front page shout out to the commenter who came the closest with their prediction.
Okay, Race community: here’s your chance to amaze us with your prognosticative abilities (and no, that’s not a real word, so don’t bother checking). Tomorrow, voting will take place in Ames, Iowa from 10 AM – 4 PM central time. More than 10,000 votes will most likely be cast. Some campaigns will not make it out of Ames alive.
The question on everybody’s mind is what the final order will look like when those votes are tallied. Here’s a reminder of the ballot (bold indicates the candidate is actively competing in the straw poll):
So now it’s your turn: what will the results of Ames look like? And, as a bonus tie breaker question: which candidates, if any, will drop out of the race after Ames (and what date will they drop out)?
Here’s my official prediction:
Tie Breaker: Cain will drop out on Monday, 8/15. Santorum will drop out on Wednesday, 8/17.
Leave your predictions in the comments. I will average everyone’s together and post the Race42012 average prediction later on. I will also give a front page shout out to whoever comes closest to predicting the actual result tomorrow night!