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Monday, August 13, 2007

Wheat and Chaff

Now that the dust has begun to settle from the Ames, Iowa straw poll, Porcupine has some observations about some common themes, and some ideas of his own to present.

First, the Chaff -

The straw poll this year has less significance, as the turnout was so much lower.

Actually, as the Des Moines Register pointed out, attendance this year was more in line with previous polls - it was the heavy turnout in 1999 that was the exception. In 1995, attendance was described as having 'ballooned' to 11,000, while this year it was 14,302, and for the first time, a valid Iowa ID was required. Back in 1987, it was only 3,500 attendees.

The poll is not really a victory for Romney, because the other top tier candidates didn’t compete.

Please explain to Porcupine why building such a well run team that your opponents are afraid to compete, as it might muss their MSM story-lines, isn’t a victory.

Romney did just about as well as expected.

Actually, Romney did better than expected. A Friday poll had Romney at 25%, Giuliani at 23%, McCain at 21%, and Huckabee and Brownback tied with 8% - the others were less than 3%. Romney got 32% of the vote - a slightly better percentage than George Bush in 1999 - and Giuliani and McCain got less than 1%. In fact, McCain got 101 votes overall, fewer than every other candidate but John Cox. Additionally, while Romney beat his nearest competitor by 13%, Bush only defeated Steve Forbes by 10%.

Romney purchased the poll, spending almost $500 per vote.

If Ames were the only Iowa event, that assessment would be correct. As it is, Romney has built name recognition for the caucus, and has established a working team on the ground for that - something his 'top-tier' rivals, those MSM darlings, have yet to do.

Now for the Wheat -

Almost as satisfying as Romney’s first place was Huckabee’s victory over Brownback.

Consider – CNN polling had them both at 8%, and then Sen. Brownback went on a spiteful tear against both Romney and Huckabee, saying that they weren’t Christian or Conservative. Huckabee blew up and pushed back against the television ads and robo-calls, and was rewarded with a second place finish over the candidate who had hired over 100 buses to ferry in his support. There is a phenomenon in Iowa known as ‘faithless riders’ – that is, people take the free ride, maybe even the free ticket and free lunch and swag bag with the tee shirts and foam toys, but still cast their secret ballot for somebody else. At one point on Saturday, Huckabee said, “I can’t buy you. Heck, I can’t even RENT you!” in describing his spending. The secret of his success had to be Faithless Riders, and it gives Porcupine a great deal of pleasure to see such mean spirited and petty tactics blow up in a candidate like Brownback’s face – it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

The Three Wise Men – Giuliani, McCain and Fred Thompson – goofed up badly.

The day after the Ames straw poll, the announcement was made that the Iowa caucuses are moved up an additional three weeks, and the New Hampshire primary will be in early January as well. So instead of having a team in place to work now, they have less than five months to put one together, and get to explain why they blew off the state’s single most important GOP fundraiser as well.

Tommy Thompson is an honest man.

He said if he didn’t finish at the top, he would drop out – and he did. That’s what a Straight Talk Express looks like.

Oh - and Ron Paul is apparently a Virtual candidate, as few actual Human Voters showed up for him despite his vast Internet poll victories. Once again - the only polls that count are taken every two years!

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