I was asked today who I thought would be in the top three in Ames at the Straw Poll sponsored by the Republican Party of Iowa. Even though it isn’t until August 13th, the space is already being auctioned off indicating who will likely participate. We know Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman won’t be there, and in my opinion shouldn’t be allowed to participate in the accompanying debate, but they both have the gall to show up for that… I digress.
It is likely that Tim Pawlenty, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have confirmed they will participate.
So my top three as we stand today looking at those who have confirmed their participation. The wildcards are Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Since neither have declared I’m not going to consider them right now. I believe both will have to get in very soon in order to compete well in the straw poll. I haven’t checked straw poll rules so I don’t know if write-in votes are allowed, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a write-in campaign, if it is allowed, based on the work I’ve seen from Organize 4 Palin here in Iowa.
My top three – I want to state right now that this is NOT an endorsement. I am currently undecided and may very well go to the Ames Straw Poll undecided. I don’t believe that the field is settled so I’m not throwing in with a candidate just yet (if I do at all).
1. Tim Pawlenty: The former Governor of Minnesota has been all in for the Iowa Caucus. He has the most staff here, he is already running a TV ad, and he has an Iowa Straw Poll website. I haven’t seen the same amount of effort and organization out of any other candidate yet. So I predict barring no one upsets the apple cart or Governor Pawlenty doesn’t implode that he will win the Ames Straw Poll.
2. Michele Bachmann: The Minnesota congresswoman has garnered a lot of attention from her New Hampshire debate performance. I don’t believe that was lost on Iowans. She has connected well with voters when she has come to speak. She has the ability to electrify the base. I see the potential for positive momentum as she formally announces her campaign at the Snowden House in Waterloo on June 27th. She’s throwing a party the night before, and will be doing a bus tour in July. I sense that she will make up for her slow start.
3. Ron Paul: The Texas congressman had thousands of eager (putting it nicely) supporters at the 2007 Ames Straw Poll for the Ron Paul Revolution. Most were from out-of-state and were unable to vote (we check IDs here in Iowa – Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz will be running the voting which will run from 10:00a – 4:00p and a valid Iowa ID is required). This isn’t 2007 however, and Congressman Paul’s grassroots base has grown significantly since. I predict that he will place third.
He bumps Herman Cain from this spot… I was back and forth on the third place spot. I think Cain is in decline, he is hemorrhaging grassroots support and has had a number formerly faithful volunteers quit and I believe his TEA Party support has diminished. A few weeks ago I would have predicted him challenging Pawlenty for the top spot. I still haven’t seen the organization from Rick Santorum’s campaign as I’ve seen from other candidates. He could be a surprise as I believe he has a message that really resonates with social conservatives. I also believe he has done the best job articulating his worldview, but success in the straw poll ability to organize is just as important as a candidate’s message. Newt Gingrich’s campaign is DOA.
Typically candidates who don’t fare well in the straw poll end up getting out early. I don’t know if that will hold true in this case as it has been an unusual year.
Then again, I could be completely wrong.