Monday, August 1, 2011

Ames Straw Poll: Where's the Passion?

Two weeks before the Iowa GOP Straw Poll -- a non-binding popularity contest for 2012 Republican presidential hopefuls -- many of the party's activists have yet to commit to any candidate.
For some, it's a dilemma of too many good choices.
"We have a lot of good candidates," says Cathy Grawe of Coralville. "We're all struggling because they are good candidates with good positions."
For others, it's a problem of not enough choices.
Well short of Rick Perry possibly getting in, many Iowans may have to suck in their gut and choose from the group that is already announced. Palin and Perry won't get in, they're having to much fun playing pretend candidates.
Iowa City GOP activist Deb Thornton doesn't think Republicans are "waiting for a savior," but says the race remains wide open. She thinks a lot of people will decide the day of the straw poll. 
With 20 percent of Iowa Republicans "undecided," that could happen, says Steffen Schmidt, ISU political science professor. 
"It's not clear if they will attend and thus produce a surprise or if they'll stay home and harvest their summer vegetable garden," Schmidt says.
As to "Where is the Passion"? If Iowans do decide to stay home and tend their vegetables instead, The passion might turn up and bite them on the the form of Paulites. If Iowans can live with that, so be it.

Read the full story HERE.

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Anonymous said...

The Ames Straw Poll is first and foremost a fundraiser. People have to pay $30 to vote this year (down from $35 in 2008), and those who don't live in Ames have to travel all the way to Ames. When one or two candidates had money and needed a boost, they could afford to buy tickets for their supporters and bus supporters all the way to the event. They could afford to make the event into a big rolling party that would end with someone voting for them. The event raised money for the Iowa GOP from ticket sales and brought money to caterers, motels, charter bus companies, and anyone else who could sell needed stuff to the campaigns.

In the long run, the party will want to preserve the event as a fundraiser. Even if the voters don't have much passion for any particular candidate, the party leaders will look for a way to make the straw poll interesting and newsworthy.

A Ron Paul win will not make the straw poll interesting and newsworthy. Ron Paul will never win the GOP presidential nomination. Ron Paul won't even win the Iowa caucus. I'm sure that Ron Paul has some loyal followers in Iowa. He came in fifth in the 2007 straw poll with 9% of the votes. He also finished fifth in the caucus with 10% of the votes. If he wins the straw poll this year, the story will be that his small but dedicated following has purchased another straw poll victory for him. Ultimately, this outcome would reduce the prestige of the straw poll. If Ron Paul wins this year, winning the straw poll in the future will be seen as much less important.

Because a Ron Paul victory in the straw poll would diminish the poll's prestige, most Republicans who can come to the poll will still make an effort and will try to coalesce around a candidate who can win. Ron Paul had about 1300 votes in 2007 and will probably have a similar vote total this year. The Republicans of Iowa will try to ensure that at least two or three other candidates finish ahead of him even if a smaller number of straw poll voters means that his 1300 to 1500 votes gives him a higher percentage.

The other goal of loyal Republicans in Iowa will be to ensure that the results make news. A Michele Bachmann win probably won't be that newsworthy. She's done well in the polls, and no one will be surprised if she wins the straw poll. Maybe her people will still come in high enough numbers to give her the win, but an undecided Republican looking for a way to make the results more newsworthy will hesitate to vote for her. The bigger news would be a win by Tim Pawlenty or Herman Cain.

Herman Cain received attention a month or so ago, but he's dropped off the radar a bit since then. If he could come back and win the straw poll, he'd be back in the news and the straw poll would be in the news because of his win. The danger is that a Herman Cain win doesn't do as much for the straw poll if his campaign never does anything else.

A Tim Pawlenty win would also be a little bit of a surprise and would help his campaign. Because his win wouldn't be as big a surprise, his win wouldn't bring as much attention to the straw poll. On the other hand, if he could use the win to gain momentum and win other states or at least be a contender for a while, then the straw poll gains prestige as the place where his campaign took a sudden turn for the better.

Anonymous said...

I predict that Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann will both finish with around 3,000 votes. I won't predict a winner, but they will be the top two candidates. Herman Cain be close to Ron Paul at around 1300 to 1500 votes. Mitt Romney had 4,500 votes in 2007 after making a huge effort. While the campaign isn't making an effort, he's still on the ballot, and his supporters might go to the poll just to support the party. He may end up with 1000 to 1500 votes. Rick Santorum will probably have around 1000 votes. Newt Gingrich may draw the votes of around 500 loyal supporters who want to say that they once voted for him for president. Thaddeus McCotter and Jon Huntsman will each get around 100 to 200 votes.

Anonymous said...

What an absolutely silly thing to get all "excited" about! You have to pay to vote?! Gracious! Why does anyone even get excited over the Iowa straw poll? It sounds like the Iowa-buy-a-Poll!

I hope Iowans are taking their "role" more seriously than just looking for the latest religious flavor of the month. We are voting for Commander in Chief and a vetted President, not a Preacher in Chief and big talker.

Anonymous said...

And what if romney wins? lol...he will be on the ballot

larry said...

I think you may be right about the Paulites and Perry.

If he wins, that's the end to what ever importance this straw poll ever head.

Terry said...

I'm kind of glad now that Romney decided to skip this payola induced beauty contest.

If Romney doesn't win, I hope Paul does. He's going nowhere.

Revolution 2012 said...

There will be quite a few people GOING NOWHERE after the Iowa caucuses!

I can't blame many of these candidates going all out there.

Anonymous said...

After what happened to Romney in 2008, I think Iowa has lost some of its excitement. Romney spent a great deal of time and money there, and Huck sailed in and took enough from Romney to totally humiliate him. And most of this was and is perceived as religious bigotry or "identity politics" at its ugliest. Iowa has lost a lot of lustre, and frankly, they deserve it.

Making Huck look competitive for the GOP handed us John McCain for a nominee. It was a bad deal, and many Republicans resent it. Since I don't see much change in the way Iowans do business, I don't really care if they get the kind of attention they crave or not. It's almost like midwesterners have achieved an arrogance of their own. "Mormons need not apply." This is a bad business, and Iowa should do something to change this perception, or they will be left out in the cold.


BOSMAN said...

I kind of hope Paul wins the poll.

It will end any importance of this poll in the future.

A big waste of time.

Unless of course Romney some how pulls it off!