Monday, August 13, 2007

Ames, Iowa GOP straw poll winner

FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR MIKE HUCKABEE, not Mitt Romney, was the big winner in last weekend’s Iowa Republican straw poll in Ames.

If you aren’t familiar with the way Iowa’s GOP straw poll works, it is simple. The Iowa Republican Party hosts a giant all-Iowa party in Ames the year before the Iowa caucuses. All the presidential candidates are invited to attend and the party holds a straw poll of those in attendance. But it is more than a straw poll and political rally, it is a fund raiser; it costs $35 to vote in the poll.

Candidates criss-cross the state campaigning for support in the January caucuses. As they identify supporters they will offer to transport them to the Ames poll and pay for their ticket so they can vote. Mitt Romney spent millions competing here – he is on the air almost constantly – to finished first with 31.5% of the vote. Kansas Senator Sam Brownback spent thousands wooing Iowans and was hoping for a second place finish behind Romney. Huckabee spent virtually nothing and jumped from near obscurity to nudge Brownback from the second spot (18.1% to 15.3%).

In a contest where candidates run against expectations as much as each other, Huckabee was the clear winner. This should be a big boost for his campaign, especially if it signals, as I think it may, that the conservative Evangelical vote is starting to coalesce around him.

One caveat: Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Arizona Senator John McCain, and former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson did not compete but did receive votes. It is also worth noting that anti-war Texas Congressman Ron Paul received 9.1%.

No comments:

Post a Comment