News from the Votemaster
The Ames straw poll was held yesterday in Ames Iowa. "Poll" is a strange word for this event. It is really a fundraising event for the Iowa Republican Party. People can buy an admission ticket for $35 (which goes to the Iowa Republican Party) and then vote for their favorite candidate. When presidential candidates compete, they buy tickets for their supporters and bus them to Ames to vote.
While this is hardly a scientific poll with random sampling, it does measure how well a candidate's organization is in locating people willing to take some action on behalf of the candidate, something that will be needed in the caucuses in January, so it is not a meaningless event. In the past, nobody has won Iowa without being near the top in the Ames poll.
In normal years, Ames is a dry run for the Iowa caucuses, but this year Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, and Fred Thompson all decided not to participate. In contrast, Mitt Romney campaigned very hard for it, and he won, but given the fact that the other big players stayed home, his victory is somewhat muted.
Nevertheless, Romney will gain a fair amount of free publicity and bragging rights until the first real event and that is worth something. While he has done well in fundraising, his polls have been anemic everywhere except Iowa and New Hampshire. But if you are going to have good polls in only two states, those are definitely the two to pick.
Here are the results as reported by the Ames Tribune.
The battle for second place was also quite heated. Former governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas won and Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) came in third. Given the unhappiness with the majority of Republicans with the top-tier candidates, these two are hoping to break into the first tier. Coming in 2nd and 3rd in Ames certainly gives them publicity as alternatives and helps them. What is so odd about this year is that conservatives nationwide are gnashing their teeth about how liberal their candidates are (certainly Giuliani and arguably Romney) while ignoring the genuine long-term conservatives in the race, Huckabee and Brownback. This may give them some traction.
Also notworthy is the 4th place finish by Tom "One-trick-pony" Tancredo, whose only issue is stopping immigration. This issue strikes a chord with a substantial number of Republican primary voters. While Tancredo has no chance of winning the nomination, his presence in the race forces the other candidates to address his issue.
Tommy Thompson came in 6th. For a four-term governor of Wisconsin and former Bush cabinet member, that is a disaster. He saw the handwriting on the wall and dropped out of the race Sunday evening. Unlike Tancredo and Ron Paul, Thompson is not running to highlight some issue. He expected to win.
The South Carolina Republican Party moved up its primary from Feb. 2 to Jan. 19 because it didn't like the idea of Florida moving to Jan. 29. South Carolina wants to be the first in the South. This move by South Carolina's Republicans infuriated Iowa and New Hampshire, which will now probably move up their caucuses and primaries, respectively. Iowa might hold its caucuses on Jan. 5, with New Hampshire a week later, but anything can happen still. Having the states bicker like 9-year-old boys is no way to elect a President. Somebody ought to tell them that.
The NY Times has an interesting story today about a Giuliani vs. Clinton race.
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