Well, the results of the Ames Straw Poll are in, and they’re not a complete surprise.
- Michele Bachmann, 4823 votes (28.55%)
- Ron Paul, 4671 votes (27.65%)
- Tim Pawlenty, 2293 votes (13.57%)
- Rick Santorum, 1657 votes (9.81%)
- Herman Cain, 1456 votes (8.62%)
- Rick Perry, 718 votes (3.62%) – write-in
- Mitt Romney, 567 votes (3.36%) – skipped event
- Newt Gingrich, 385 votes (2.28%) – skipped event
- Jon Huntsman, 69 votes (0.41%) – skipped event
- Thad McCotter, 35 votes (0.21%)
By dividing the vote totals by the percentages of the top two finishers, I’ve deduced there are roughly 187 votes for candidates not listed. That means Sarah Palin (if she received all of them, which I’m sure she did not) would have finished well back in the pack and ahead of just Huntsman and McCotter. Considering Rick Perry finished sixth without being on the ballot, perhaps she’s not the formidable “Mama Grizzly” we may have thought she’d be.
While Bachmann and Pawlenty were expected to do well, Rick Santorum probably raised a lot of eyebrows by coming in fourth. Surely Pawlenty’s team has to be disappointed by how badly he was trounced by Michele Bachmann, though – being the second-most popular Minnesotan in Iowa is bad enough, but he lost by a better than 2-to-1 margin.
Having Ron Paul come in second is no real surprise, as he tends to do quite well in a situation where voting is confined to a small space that can be packed by his rabid following. But Paul tripled his 2007 performance in Ames, going from 9.1% to 27.7 percent. Perhaps he’s more of a player this time, but most likely still not good enough to win the nomination.
A few months back in the spring, it looked like Herman Cain was the “it” candidate, but apparently his support has cooled off. It’s likely Bachmann’s entrance has cut heavily into his support and he may be an early casualty in the race because of this result.
In looking at the bottom five, you have the newly-announced write-in (Rick Perry) who did reasonably well. It would have been interesting, though, to see how he would have done had he been on the ballot. I’m sure he wouldn’t have beaten Michele Bachmann or Ron Paul but I think he would’ve knocked Pawlenty down to a fourth or fifth place finish.
The next three did not represent themselves in Ames, so their campaigns will chalk their poor finishes up to that factor and not how much they may or may not have appealed to the Republican regulars who attended. In that respect, I’m not surprised at the order in which they finished. However, with only 1/5 or so of the votes of the next person up, the much-ballyhooed campaign of Jon Huntsman may be in trouble because it’s not catching fire with the grassroots.
I’ve checked Thad McCotter’s website over the last hour, and aside from a Tweet congratulating “my colleagues” Bachmann and Paul on their finishes, there’s no indication of his future plans. But such a poor finish when he spoke for himself at the event doesn’t bode well for his chances. When your votes are outnumbered 138 to 1 by the winner’s, that’s a pretty big hill to climb.
So I suppose the silly season has begun in earnest. As I said yesterday, the only shoe which may need to drop on the GOP side is whether Sarah Palin will make a late entry into the race.
(On the Democratic side, there’s always a chance that Barack Obama may have a primary challenge from the left. If nothing else I’d just like to hear Obama say “I’ll whip his ass” like Jimmy Carter did regarding Ted Kennedy’s longshot bid. That might be the only ass our President whips since SEAL Team 6 isn’t available anymore.)
Once I get back to doing my candidate rankings I’ll add Perry in and see who I select. At the moment I’m backing the frontrunner but it’s all subject to change.