Thursday, June 9, 2011

Mitt Romney to Skip the Ames Poll in Iowa

H/T to Martha
Mitt Romney will skip a key early test for Republican presidential candidates by forgoing the Iowa straw poll in mid-August, a decision that could recast the contest in the nation's first presidential nominating state.
The Iowa straw poll, held in Ames, is one of the landmark events of the nominating contest. Mr. Romney's decision sends the clearest signal yet that he doesn't want to wade deeply into the social issues that carry particular weight with Iowa Republicans and instead intends to present himself to voters nationally as a successful businessman who can improve the economy.
Mr. Romney's campaign said he would still compete in Iowa's caucuses, now slated for February, 2012. But the former Massachusetts governor's absence from the Aug. 13 straw poll will likely diminish his chances, some Iowa officials say, while raising the odds that whoever wins the poll will be best positioned to claim the status as Mr. Romney's top rival for the nomination.

The Full Story is HERE.

I personally think this is a mistake. I also think that announcing this fact this early, was not a good move. The only possible reasoning I could see for this, Is that Romney may feel he is opening up Iowa for a free-for-all between the rest of the candidates and may figure he could win it there by default or come in second with little or no effort.

I wonder if this means he will go all out in South Carolina and spend more time in Florida?


Anonymous said...

Bosman, I didn't see how Romney could realistically compete in both Iowa and NH. The Ames poll was always going to be damned if you do, damned if you don't for Romney. I think you are right that perhaps it was too early to announce this.

However, Romney seems pretty confident this go round. I like it. He seems at peace with running the race his way, and living with the consequences. I hope he is right about Ames.


Troy said...

I think this is a smart move. The press might eat him up over it but the rest of the field will use more time and money to compete. Bachmann, Cain, and Pawlenty can duke it out and divide up the field. Could be a risky move but might prove that Romney has learned his lesson and running the long game. Focus, focus, focus...that means NH, NV, and FL!

Corep said...

I happen to agree with this decision and also the timing.

Ames was never going to be a winning proposition for Romney. If he competes and does badly(meaning for him, if he didnt win) then his status as frontrunner is way diminshed. By foregoing the event he actuality marginalizes the contest as a one issue vote. he also by doing this puts all the pressure on TPAW. With Romney out TPAW has to win - he increases expectations on TPAW and reduces them on himself at the same time.
He also sets himself up for an overperform in Iowa on caucus night meme to come out if he does say better than 23%, and if he were to win it in an expanded field of So cons its all the more better.

ON timing i say its good because its out of the way already. He doesnt have to answer questions about the Iowa strategy and really the only ones paying attention right now are us diehards. It all goes to lower expectations in Iowa and overperform on caucus night. Believe me if the economy is still issue 1 in Feb,, being in Ames or not will not matter one iota.

Summary for move-

1) put pressure on Tpaw
2) diminsh IA expectations with the hope to overperform in Feb

craigs said...

I guess I don't see this as a problem. He also committed to the Iowa debate that occurs, I think, just before the straw vote. In fact, I'm not sure of the mechanics of the straw vote, but couldn't voters just write in his name ?
No matter. What is riskier ? He leads in the polls in Iowa and may well lead going into the straw vote. Were he to lose, he would lose a lot of momentum to the cause of high expectations. No matter what he gets in the polls, it will be a plus for someone who is not running in the straw vote. And, by entering the Iowa debate , he sends a real message about aggressively pursuing the Iowa caucus in February


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Stupid to endorse ethanol subsidies, and the bail on the only state where that issue stance benefits him politically.

Anonymous said...

I support Mitt's decision on this one. I'm no expert on this things but my guts tells me he will still do great on the caucuses either 2nd or 1st. It's all about Strategy and learning from past mistakes.

Anonymous said...

Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn issued the statement below following Governor Romney’s announcement that he will not participate in the the Ames Straw Poll.
“I’ll leave it to the pundits and voters to assess the wisdom of skipping an event of tremendous importance to tens of thousands of Iowa Republicans and caucusgoers.”
“More than ever, Iowa Republicans are energized and motivated to utilize the Ames Straw Poll as a catalyst toward building a 99-county organization to deny President Obama a second term.”
“I’m encouraged that this grassroots energy, combined with the need for other Presidential campaigns to demonstrate their organizational strength and support, will lead to a very successful Ames Straw Poll in August.”

kelly said...

"Stupid to endorse ethanol subsidies, and the bail on the only state where that issue stance benefits him politically."

Maybe Romney figures that's his ace in the hole?

Isn't he the only top tier candidate for ethanol subsidies? Maybe he feels, that alone will carry him there?

cindy said...

I'm disappointed also. I wanted a shot at a clean sweep for Romney.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Romney is making a huge mistake. The point of competing in the straw poll is that the straw poll is a major fundraiser for the Iowa GOP and the state as a whole. Skipping the straw poll sends the message that he doesn't care about Iowa. This message will make winning Iowa in the general election very difficult. He should compete not because he plans to win the straw poll or the Iowa caucuses. He should compete to show Iowa that he's truly running a fifty state campaign.

tim said...

I wonder if this will open Iowa up for the likes of Huntsman, Perry, and Giuliani?

Maybe Romney figures that now no one will challenge him in NH. The battle for who his major opponent will be will take place in Iowa instead.

Corep said...

a couple of comments to the comments-

cindy, you do know that no one in the modern GOP era has ever had a clean sweep of IA, NH, SC, Fl right?

clean sweep was never going to happen.

Anon at 9:06 - of course he is going to say that- he is the head of the GOP in IA. He just lost his BIG dog draw to Ames with the media.

But his second part is really why I think ROmney doesnt need to go and play in the Ames. Romney in 2011 is a known commodity and he has the organization in place. Heck Mitt gave Branstad, IA gov., something like $35,000 for his campaign and he gave $10,000 to the IA GOP party headed by Matt Strawn last year. Most of Branstad people are Mitt people as well.
Mitt has shown he has an organization in place already, it's solid. Ames is about showing that you can organize and thats what is the most benefit not the actual placing.

Anonymous said...

@kelly - His chance of winning Iowa is close to zero if he skips the straw poll. His campaign is acknowledging his weakness in the state with this decision.

His endorsement of ethanol subsidies will hurt him in other important states.

If ethanol was his "ace in the whole," he wouldn't be employing this strategy. I see it as a huge blunder.

Anonymous said...

I'm disappointed, but I trust his judgment. I'm sure he is doing it for a reason.


ConMan said...

I wasn't expecting this. Especially in light of such a crowded field and him being numero uno in the polls.

I think Romney could have taken this. He can't possibly think that this will not hurt him in the caucuses.

So other than NH and NV, where else now will he go all out? SC? FL? MI?

craigs said...

What is more important. The straw poll or the Iowa debate the week before. Or the Iowa caucus itself. Smart move by Romney I don,t see what he loses with 2 out of 3

Corep said...


i dont get why people cant see this for the smart move it is? Glad at least i have esteemed company in the minority opinion.

corep said...


Guiliani if he runs will skip IA, Huntsman already has said he is going to skip IA as well. Huntsman wasnt going to be at Ames either. Perry is a wait and see. I think if he announces at all he will do so late enough in the game that he will conveniently "still be organizing" and not have to go to Ames. See for Perry he will have the same problem mitt has, if he goes to Ames he has to win or he under performs and damages his standing as a potential anti Mitt

Patton said...

Why give a win to an opponent if you can cut them off BEFREE they have a chance to go to a second battle as a victor?

Corep said...


because the odds of Mitt to win Ames is low right now and he deals a crushing blow to his campaign if he goes there and he loses or say even places 3rd behind a bachmann and a TPAW.

if you view this through the prism of a business decision, he spent a TON in 2007 for Ames and for IA and he lost when it mattered. The sign of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.

Ames is a show of organizing that costs a lot of money. Last time Huck did a shoestring budget at Ames adn came surprisingly close second to Romney for the effort and money put in. The IA so con movement is very much still against Mitt from 2007, absent Huck getting up the sunday before and telling everyone that Mitt is the guy in 2012 it is going to be a hard road for Romney. Doesnt mean he wont play hard in IA just means he is managing expectations and not having someone else dictate them for him.

Did this help at all Patton?

Patton said...

Not really.

Romney wasn't next in line in 07.
There were more big names in back then. There weren't so many so-cons around to split up the votes.

NOW, he is WELL KNOWN and that may be due to his efforts in 07.

corep said...


since 1972 on the GOP side the IA caucus have successfully picked the president of the United States only ONE time. W in 2000. thats it.

Also I am not saying that Mitt isnt going to do well on caucus night, in fact i am saying the opposite. I think this move sets him up very well for caucus night. He can slip in overperform, maybe even take teh top spot, because as you point out he has several so cons who will split that vote.

Also if Ames is without Romney he can stand back and gauge who has the best organization and see how that organization performs and how to beat it.

and lastly, McCain was the next in line in 2008 and he didnt even show in Iowa until the last 2 weeks before caucus mostly to help Huck stop Romney. He ended up in 4th that year with 13.1 % of the vote and still won the nomination

corep said...

here is a quote from Matt Rhoades Romney's campaign manager about the Ames decision-

“We respect the straw poll process,” said Matt Rhoades, the campaign manager for Mr. Romney. “In the last presidential campaign we were both strengthened as an organization and learned some important lessons by participating in them. This time we will focus our energies and resources on winning primaries and caucuses.”

hamaca said...

I think it was a good tactic to announce this right after the Newt fiasco. Means that pundits and media won't be obsessing on a slow news day.

Doug NYC GOP said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doug NYC GOP said...

At first blush this looks like a retreat, but as we know, all does not always appear as it seems.

If Romney goes to Ames and comes in 2nd or 3rd, as some suggest, that creates an opening for the press to over-inflate the winner against Romney. The reverse of 2007.

In Ames 2007, Romney's win was overshadowed by Huck's second place finish and the press had the "rivalry story" they are always looking for in these races.

This time if Romney goes all in and loses, that creates the story line to run with, of the frontrunner being tripped up. Then Romney is on defense going into NH. Not what he wants to do.

By opting out of Ames and playing in Iowa later, Romney can come out of Iowa with his current 20-25%, in either 1st, 2nd or 3rd and head into NH still on offense.

It's about building momentum and a sense of inevitability. By going hard in Iowa and coming up short, throws the entire plan off kilter.

Here's a little more on the role of Iowa:

craigs said...

Romney is endorsed today by the Governor of Nebraska. As the Omaha World pointed out, this will help Mitt in Western Iowa and he is already very strong in Eastern Iowa. Mitt looks to be in as good a shape as he can be in at this point in Iowa. Iowa's Governor will, at worst, stay neutral, but may very well endorse Mitt as well


hamaca said...

It would be a pleasant surprise if the governor endorsed the candidate seen as snubbing Ames.

IA Rep said...

"It would be a pleasant surprise if the governor endorsed the candidate seen as snubbing Ames"

I wouldn't hold my breath.

It would have been an easy endorsement if Romney had chosen to attend.

Rombot said...

This is a good move by Romney. In 2007, he beat Huckabee by 12 points, yet the story coming out of Ames was that he bought the victory and that Huckabee was a real contender. What was the end result? Huckabee won Iowa.

This cycle, if he wins the same narrative will be played and if he loses he gets blasted in the media.

Straw Polls have a bad reputation these days as things that can be easily manipulated. Ron Paul and his henchmen have proven how easy it is to win a strong poll even though you aren't going anywhere in the real polls. Romney is very smart to downplay them. It delegitimizes them and removes a tool that other candidates can use to claim credibility. Ron Paul winning Ames (which he could easily do) would be great for Romney.

On another note, skipping the straw poll does not mean that Romney is giving up on Iowa. He has the best organization in the state and is leading in the polls there. He is not skipping Iowa. Skipping the straw poll also does not mean that he won't show up at Ames. It is true that it is a huge fundraiser for the State GOP, and him showing up and giving a speech without actively competing in the straw poll might be a smart move, depending on who is in the race at that point.