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August 12, 2007

Mitt Romney Wins The Ames Straw Poll

by Doug Mataconis

Considering both the amount of money he spent, and the fact that two of his top competitors weren’t actively participating, it should come as no surprise that Mitt Romney basically cleaned up in the Ames straw poll yesterday:

AMES, Iowa, Aug. 11 — With a convincing victory in the Republican straw poll here Saturday, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney vaulted himself into the next phase of a presidential nomination battle pitting his traditional early-state strategy against a more unorthodox approach by national front-runner Rudolph W. Giuliani.

Romney’s win in the nonbinding Ames contest, sealed by his appeals to the party’s conservative base and generous spending all around the state, underscored his attempt to concentrate time and resources on the opening states of Iowa and New Hampshire, believing that early victories will propel him to the nomination.

Giuliani, who is at odds with GOP conservatives on abortion and gay rights, skipped the Iowa test run as part of a blueprint for victory that is less dependent upon winning the first two voting states. Giuliani strategists see a flock of big states holding their contests in late January and on the first Tuesday in February as the former New York mayor’s best chance to secure the nomination.

“Romney’s running a more traditional campaign to solidify social conservatives and economic conservatives,” said Scott Reed, who managed Robert J. Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign. “Rudy is not only trying to change the importance of the calendar but also trying to turn out a lot of moderates who don’t traditionally vote in these primaries and caucuses. . . . Giuliani’s strategy is not flawed — but it’s never been tested.”

The GOP race remains wide open, with many Republican voters disgruntled with their choices and support for all the leading candidates remaining relatively soft and shallow. That foreshadows five months of intensive campaigning before Iowa’s caucuses in January.

And here are the final results, courtesy of the NY Times

1. Mitt Romney –32 percent
2. Mike Huckabee – 18 percent
3. Sam Brownback – 15 percent
4. Tom Tancredo – 14 percent
5. Ron Paul – 9 percent
6. Tommy Thompson — 7 percent
7. Fred Thompson – 1 percent
8. Rudolph W. Giuliani – 1 percent
9. Duncan Hunter – 1 percent
10. John McCain (less than 1 percent)
11. John Cox (less than 1 percent)

A few observations about the results:

If Romney had come away from Ames with anything less than 30% of the vote, it probably would’ve been considered a loss for him. He invested a huge amount of money into a straw poll that has never been a good predictor of who the eventual nominee will be (in 1987 a guy named Pat Robertson won in Ames, and, in 1979, another guy by the name of Reagan only got 11% of the vote in Ames). If Giuliani, McCain and Fred Thompson had actively competed in this poll, I can guarantee that Romney would not have done this well

The relatively poor showings by Giuliani and (Fred) Thompson are meaningless because neither one of these campaigns was actively participating in the poll. Giuliani is still the man to beat for the Republican nomination, and Thompson, if he ever gets organized enough to enter the race, is still a force to contend with.

John McCain is a dead man. To come in, effectively, dead last among all of the declared candidates is about as big a road block as the Straight Talk Express could ever encounter.

Mike Huckabee in second place ? Who woulda thunk it ? At the very least, this means he’ll be taken more seriously than he was before. The same goes for Brownback and Tancredo.

Tommy Thompson threatened to withdraw from the race if he didn’t get second place at Ames. In response, most Republicans expressed surprise when told that Tommy Thompson was a candidate for President.

And, finally, there’s Ron Paul. While 9% may not be what his supporters might have hoped for, it is still a respectable showing and an indication that his 3% peak in national polls may be only the beginning. For anyone who believes in freedom, this could only be a good thing.

Hopefully, these results will be the beginning of a much-needed winnowing of the GOP field. With the exception of Giuliani and Fred Thompson, anyone who did worse than 5th place in this poll needs to recognize that they have no legitimate chance of winning the GOP nomination. And, yes, that includes you Senator McCain.

Originally posted at Below The Beltway

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  • Carolyn

    Considering that Romney spent over 2M, bought 10,000 tickets and bused in thousands of voters, I’m astounded that the media consider him the winner. He and his family spent months in Iowa and attended over 200 events. I consider his meager vote tally of under 4,500 votes a clear indication that he is really the biggest loser in Iowa’s straw poll.

  • http://www.bossypantsreview.blogspot.com Dusti

    I was hoping Ron Paul would do better. Still, it is a good showing considering he buried those other guys. When I was in Council Bluffs, IA recently (I live in Alabama) I saw a whole storefront window plastered in Tom Tancredo signs.

  • Carson

    I am proud to be an American when I see the way the straw poll seemed to cut through some of the hype created by the media in favor of the over financed candidates.

    Back about 1915 or so we had a politician named Woodrow Wilson that accepted a bribe to create the Federal Reserve. They were a group of very powerful bankers and businessmen from around the world at the time. Through the monopoly of being the source of our money and by being outside of our government, or paying any taxes, they have built up a fortune that, I believe, includes owning most of the politicians of the world.

    It is going to take a determined, We the People, to restore law and order in our government before we can restore law and order in our once great nation.

    “I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men. We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated governments in the civilized world. No longer a government by free opinion, no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men.”

    -Woodrow Wilson

  • Buckwheat

    What have you done with Doug Mataconis?

  • Paul

    I had the same question Buckwheat! ;-)

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