NATIONAL GOP UNDERDOGS WIN AMES, IOWA STRAW POLL
Saturday marked another sign of tradition at the Iowa State Fair in Ames, the Republican straw poll. With six months before the state's first-in-the-nation caucuses, candidates who have done well at this event have used it for bragging rights and as a show of their support, with the hope that the national attention focused on the straw poll helps them elsewhere.
Yesterday, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney came away the winner, and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee surprised pundits with a second place showing. However, many pundits should look at the results as a shallow victory for a couple of reasons.
First, the turnout was significantly lower than in years past...just over 14,300 votes were cast. Also, several of the top-tier GOP wannabees such as John McCain and Rudy Giuliani didn't bother participating on an active basis. Usually, a candidate's organization will bus in supporters from throughout the state to vote, with food and other goodies to keep 'em happy. That cost a lot of money, and apparantly McClain and Giuliani felt their resources were better spent elsewhere...especially McCain, whose campaign coffers are seriously lacking right now. BTW: Giuliani came in eighth, while McCain was tenth...next to last.
And we're already hearing of another candidate dropping out. Former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson, who was sixth in Saturday's poll, had previously said he may quit if he didn't come in first or second in Ames. His organization has announced he would make an announcement within the next 48 hours.