The much-hyped Iowa Straw Poll finally took place tonight, and the results are in. As expected, Mitt Romney was the victor. Of course, with top-tier candidates like Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, and Fred Thompson refusing to participate, anything less than a solid first-place finish would have been devastating to the Romney candidacy.
Anyway, here are the complete results, along with my commentary:
1. Mitt Romney – 4516 votes – 31%
This is roughly the same percentage George W. Bush got in 1999. And we all know what happened after that: the momentum from his victory here helped secure Dubya’s place as the front-runner for the GOP nomination, and he of course became the eventual nominee. The Romney camp is probably somewhat disappointed that they didn’t get a higher percentage, but they still won by a comfortable margin. Romney has the “big-mo” now. Let’s see if he can keep it.
2. Mike Huckabee – 2587 votes – 18.1%
This was somewhat surprising. Huckabee was expected to do relatively well here, but not to grab second-place, garnering nearly one-in-five votes cast. This result could easily propel the former Arkansas Governor to top-tier status among the GOP candidates. And he is certainly a credible candidate: over ten years experience as a Governor; he’s a Southerner; he’s somewhat telegenic, and a good speaker who gives off a positive vibe; he is an ordained Protestant Minister; and he has a great personal story, being born in Hope, Arkansas (sound familiar?) and losing over 100 pounds while becoming a major advocate for healthy living. Keep your eye on this guy.
3. Sam Brownback – 2192 votes – 15.3%
Yeah, you could say that it’s a respectable third-place showing, but Brownback is done. Let’s just take a look at the facts. He’s from Kansas, which is practically on Iowa’s border. He’s probably the most socially-conservative candidate of the bunch (and social conservatives are a huge constituency in Iowa, especially at events like this that draw mostly activists). He’s been visiting Iowa constantly for several months now, and he’s been fund-raising for this campaign for almost a year (I should know – I’ve probably gotten a dozen pleas for cash from this guy since 2006). He even vastly outspent Huckabee here. And yet he still came in third (and not terribly far from fourth). Brownback will withdraw from the race sometime in the near future – mark my words.
4. Tom Tancredo – 1961 votes – 13.7%
Heh. This is a strong showing for a “fringe” candidate, but it won’t do Tancredo any good. He still won’t get the nomination, because he’s too far to the right, and he’s also a terrible public speaker. And he isn’t a viable potential running-mate for whoever does win the nomination, for those same exact reasons. This fairly strong showing is just a way for Iowans to voice their disgust with illegal immigration. And, seeing as how Iowa is pretty damn far away of the Mexican border, I believe this is a strong indication that illegal immigration will continue to be a very important issue throughout the remainder of this campaign.
5. Ron Paul – 1305 votes – 9.1%
Wow. He’s not polling under 1% anymore, now is he? Everyone is just going to have to come to terms with the fact that Ron Paul really does have a significant base of support, as evidenced by his impressive fund-raising and his strong online presence. He won’t win the nomination, of course, but I do expect him to be the last candidate to concede, and to give one helluva interesting speech at the GOP Convention (assuming they let him come within 100 meters of a microphone).
6. Tommy Thompson – 1,009 votes – 7.3%
You gotta feel bad for Tommy, the other Thompson. Here’s a guy who was elected Governor of Wisconsin (a state that borders Iowa) four times, and made it a point to visit every single one of Iowa’s 99 counties. But he still came in sixth. He had recently declared that he would drop out of the race if he didn’t come in first or second. Well, he didn’t, so goodbye Tommy. Maybe if you’re lucky, the next President will be a fellow Republican, and he’ll offer you the ambassadorship to Angola or something.
7. Fred Thomson with 231 votes
Of the “big three” GOP candidates who didn’t bother to contest the Iowa Straw Poll, Fred Thompson came in first. For whatever that’s worth.
8. Rudy Giuliani with 183 votes
An utterly meaningless result because he didn’t contest this poll.
9. Duncan Hunter with 174 votes
This has to be disappointing. Duncan Hunter is smart, conservative, experienced, a good public speaker, and fairly telegenic. Yet he gets humiliated with a result like this. I expect him to drop out of the race sometime before the Iowa Caucuses, though perhaps not immediately.
10. John McCain with 101 votes
Sad. Simply pathetic. The guy who was presumed to be the GOP front-runner not all that long ago comes in last (I’m not counting #11, and neither should you). Of course, McCain didn’t bother to contest this poll, but that’s mostly because his campaign is flat broke and his poll numbers are in the toilet. His only hope is another New Hampshire miracle. But it isn’t going to happen this time around.
11. John Cox with 41 votes
A complete non-entity. The only thing I can conclude from this result is that apparently Mr. Cox has 41 relatives who are registered voters in Iowa.