August 14, 2011. Ames, Iowa. With the Iowa Straw Poll over and the results in, it’s time to evaluate the results and see how they impact the campaign for President. Yesterday turned out to be the most important day in the 2012 Presidential campaign thus far. By the time the dust settled, a top-three candidate had dropped out, a new top-three candidate entered the race, and one out of the sea of GOP hopefuls had captured a valuable win in the Hawkeye state.
Recapping, here are the results of the 2011 Republican Party Iowa Straw Poll:
Michele Bachmann – 4,823, 28.55%
Ron Paul – 4,671, 27.65%
Tim Pawlenty – 2,293, 13.57%
Rick Santorum – 1,657, 9.81%
Herman Cain – 1,456, 8.62%
Rick Perry (write-in) – 718, 3.62%
Mitt Romney – 567, 3.36%
Newt Gingrich – 385, 2.28%
Thaddeus McCotter – 35, 0.21%
misc. – 162, 0.96%
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann proved she has what it takes to run with the big shots. Finishing first with over a quarter of the vote in a field of nine candidates is pretty impressive. And while the Bachmann campaign is justifiably celebrating today, there is a downside to triumphant finish.
For starters, Rep. Bachmann was born in Iowa and she played upon that fact every chance she got. Also, she was the only woman in the race, something that automatically garners a large chunk of votes in early polls. And finally, word in the precincts of Iowa is that the Bachmann team had expected to win big with approximately 6,000 votes. Instead, the Minnesota Congresswoman finished almost tied with second place Ron Paul and with 4,671 votes, well short of the 6,000 vote goal.
Texas Congressman Ron Paul finished a very close second behind Rep. Bachmann. Each of them more than doubled the vote total of every other candidate. Unfortunately for the Paul campaign, the mainstream media and the Republican National Committee is so anti-Ron Paul, even if the libertarian Congressman would have won big, it would have been chalked up to crazy Iowa idealists and meaningless to the campaign because, as the mainstream media continually tells us, “Ron Paul has no chance”.
The reality is, Rep. Paul won the firs major straw poll earlier this campaign season at the CPAC convention. And now, the Texas Congressman has finished a close second in Iowa. With credentials like that, not only does Ron Paul have a chance, he’s still one of the frontrunners.
Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty became the first casualty of the campaign. The former Governor immediately announced this morning that he was ending his campaign for President. “I thought I would have made a great President. But obviously that pathway for now isn’t there” Pawlenty told ABC. The former Minnesota Governor’s sudden departure took the experts by surprise. Tim Pawlenty had surprised some with his fundraising ability and his strong showing yesterday. According to the candidate however, it just wasn’t enough. Many, including this column, believe Mr. Pawlenty went too negative against Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann. Being negative instead of positive is rarely a good image for a Presidential candidate.
Former US Senator Rick Santorum finished a surprising fourth. Will little or no mention in the press, Santorum capitalized on his ‘boots on the ground’ strategy in Iowa. He also livened up his message at the Straw Poll debate, confronting both Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann. Read the Whiteout Press article, ‘Quarrelsome Questions Mire Great Iowa Debate’ for more information. Finally, the former Senator used his staunch pro-life, anti-gay credentials to capitalize on an overwhelmingly pro-life, anti-gay Iowa GOP. Santorum will have to come up with a new message when he moves his campaign to New Hampshire.
Herman Cain finished a respectable fifth. If he were a politician relying on funding from big political donors, Mr. Cain may have been finished after yesterday’s poll results. Finishing with almost nine percent of the vote and being independently wealthy, the businessman from the private sector can legitimately move his campaign onto the next state and know it’s being swept there by genuine support and backing from the rank and file GOP voters.
Texas Governor Rick Perry made some enemies within the Republican field of Presidential candidates yesterday. It wasn’t because his supporters executed a write-in campaign that helped him finish ahead of not only half the field, but most importantly, ahead of national frontrunner Mitt Romney. No, the GOP field is upset because the Texas Governor announced his candidacy on the day of the Iowa Straw Poll, guaranteeing that news coverage would be pulled away from the eventual winner. Eclipsing the Straw Poll victor was Perry’s intention, and he did it superbly. If that is any indication of the competence of the Texas Governor’s campaigning talent, he may just be Mitt Romney’s next major hurdle as the pundits are suggesting.
Mitt Romney finished a disappointing seventh. While the former Massachusetts Governor didn’t actively campaign in Iowa or participate in the Straw Poll activities, he is still considered the national frontrunner. With the backing of the multinational corporations within the GOP, Romney should have done much better than a seventh place finish. In comparison, Texas Governor Rick Perry didn’t campaign in Iowa either and he wasn’t even an official candidate or listed on the ballot. If that’s any indication of things to come, the GOP may have a new national frontrunner and his or her name isn’t Mitt Romney.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich also disappointed his supporters with a distant eighth place showing. Garnering only 2 percent of the vote, Gingrich will likely be the next candidate to drop out of the race. Michigan Congressman Thaddeus McCotter may also be inclined to drop out. In a sign of how well liked the McCotter is within his own party, the Iowa GOP refused to even let the Michigan Congressman participate in the Straw Poll debate. That gesture was considered a major snub since McCotter was on the ballot.
The two missing bits of information from the Iowa Straw Poll are – How many write-in votes did Sarah Palin get, and how many write-in votes did Steve Parry receive. ‘Steve Parry’ was a grassroots campaign to write in Governor Perry’s name, but with a twist to identify their support level.
According to the Republican Party of Iowa, the only information currently available is the fact that miscellaneous names and write-in candidates received a combined 162 votes, less than 1 percent. The question is, are the ‘Rick Parry’ votes included in the official Perry count? Many states will count votes that are only one or two letters off from the correct spelling and apply the votes to the candidate. If that’s the case, the ‘Parry’ votes are included in Rick Perry’s total. If that’s not the case, then ‘Rick Parry’, Sarah Palin and all other write-ins made up the 162 total of miscellaneous votes.
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